The Bristol Cable

Radical action is needed to tackle Bristol’s deadly pollution. Let’s make it happen.

Photo: Colin Moody

We believe journalism has power. As a member of the Cable you can use that power to push for positive change in Bristol.

Over the past months, members have helped to shape options for our next campaign. Now we’ve narrowed it down to two key issues facing our city, and it’s time for you to add your voice.

You can find out more about each campaign and vote here. Voting takes just seconds but the impact will be lasting. Make sure to vote by 27th of Feb!

Your street might be killing you. Your cycle commute to work might be killing you. The pizza restaurant next door might be killing you. 300 deaths per year in Bristol are attributable to air pollution, according to a 2017 report commissioned by the council.

Young children growing up in Bristol are, like everyone else, breathing the equivalent of 1-2 cigarettes worth of pollutants everyday. It’s also a matter of equality – more deprived areas are often the hardest hit.

The blame for slow action on our air pollution crisis is thrown around like a hot potato. The UK government has been lambasted by the EU for breaking laws on legal levels. The government in turn just this month slammed Bristol council for not making sufficient improvement plans.

2019 is shaping up to be a year of action… The innovation and ideas are there

In a letter delivered to Mayor Marvin Rees this month, Therese Coffey MP wrote she was “absolutely astonished at your delay in improving air quality for the people of Bristol as quickly as possible”. The council has been ordered to follow a strict timetable for producing its air quality strategy including putting their plans up for public consultation by the end of March.

It’s also a time of great change for many parts of the city which are undergoing significant transformations. Large scale developments, infrastructure and transport are all being considered by the authority as it works on its new big picture ‘local plan’ – a blueprint for the future of the city. How will air quality be addressed in tandem with other needs and concerns?

So far, the council’s flagship proposal for air quality has been exploring a Clean Air Zone that would reduce the number of heavily polluting vehicles entering the city centre, but without solving Bristol’s bus crisis, critics argue it could be a regressive move.

From industry to transport, energy generation to fuel use, the sources of Bristol’s dirty air are varied. Our reporting will demystify where the problems originate. And even though the issue of air pollution can feel intangible or hard to relate to, there are things we can do. Change is possible. Let’s find out what those changes are, and put them into practice.

2019 is shaping up to be a year of action. In Bristol, grassroots initiatives are pushing for change and suggesting solutions. From preventing the use of woodburners, to minimising exposure for children on the school run. The innovation and ideas are there.

These Bristolians are part of a network of communities around the country (and indeed the world) creating the changes they want to see.

We’ll identify where the pollution we breathe each day comes from, what can be done and who can do it. We’ll work with allies and community groups, and push for action, whether it be from companies, authorities, our neighbours or ourselves.

Why members are voting for this campaign

The air we breathe is something that affects everyone’s health. No one is immune to what we are exposed to and when. It is a big problem to tackle but if we don’t put pressure on authorities and industries to change then improvement will be too slow. Let’s make Bristol a ground-breaking example for a healthier and greener place to live.


I, my partner, and one of my grandchildren have asthma, which I am sure is exacerbated by Bristol’s pollution.


Air pollution is a widespread public health concern with far greater adverse outcomes for the general population including asthma, COPD, Cancer, CVD, stroke, dementia etc. Air pollution and associated behaviours are also related to climate change concerns, which again eclipse
drug using in terms of the reach and severity of the outcomes.


While either campaign would be worthwhile, Clean Air is an issue that directly affects all citizens of Bristol so I feel that this campaign is likely to have greater impact and broader appeal.


Join 2,600+ Cable members working together to redefine local media.

Your support will help the Cable grow, deepening our connections in the city and investigating the issues that matter most in our communities.

Join now

What makes us different?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related content

Greens and Labour are close in Windmill Hill, where climate, air pollution and housing are key concerns for locals

It’s likely to be a tight fight in Windmill Hill again, after Labour beat the Greens by just a few hundred votes last election.

Will Bristol’s new clean air zone influence city centre voters at the polls?

Central ward was a close race between Labour and the Greens in 2016, with a low turnout and just seven votes in it.

‘If everything worked you could get rid of cars’: Travel is the election issue in Bishopston and Ashley Down

Bishopston and Ashley Down is currently split between the Green Party and Labour. The Greens want a Residents’ Parking Zone, while Labour are pushing for low-traffic neighbourhoods. These stances on cars, pollution and transport may swing the vote.

In Southville, a U-turn on parking problems is shaking up the local election race

Residents in streets not covered by a residents’ parking zone have been campaigning without success to get it extended. Days before the election, Labour candidates are promising action from the council.

'The new Bristol and WECA mayors will need to move fast to clean up Bristol's air'

The need for steps to be taken on our dangerously polluted air is clear, but change is slow to come, writes clean air campaigner Katrina Billings.

The campaigners creating an environmental movement with social justice at its core

Air pollution disproportionately affects ethnic minorities and deprived communities, yet environmental movements tend to be predominantly white and middle class. We sit down with Olivia Sweeney, Black and Green ambassador, to ask what is being done about this in the city, and what are her hopes f...

Join our newsletter

Get the essential stories you won’t find anywhere else

Subscribe to the Cable newsletter to get our weekly round-up direct to your inbox every Saturday

Join our newsletter

Get the essential stories you won’t find anywhere else

Subscribe to the Cable newsletter to get our weekly round-up direct to your inbox every Saturday