The launch of a Clean Air Zone (CAZ) in Bristol will likely be delayed yet again due to a “national issue with bus lanes”, according to the city’s mayor.
The CAZ was initially due to come into force in October last year, but has faced repeated delays. It was expected to be launched this September, but this will now likely be pushed back again due to a change in regulations on bus lanes.
The aim of the CAZ is to reduce deadly levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution, which mainly comes from road traffic, to legally-compliant levels by 2023. Nitrogen dioxide pollution is thought to contribute to as many as 36,000 early deaths in the UK each year.
Mayor Marvin Rees said the city council has done “everything we can”, and blamed Westminster for the delays.
Asked if the launch is still on track for September, Mr Rees said: “We have done everything we can in Bristol. There has been a bit of an issue. A national change to bus lane regulations by the government has actually resulted in one of the suppliers of the implementation changing their work programme. So that’s a national issue that could result in some issues.
“We’re trying to get clarification on details on that, but it’s a concern that we now have the disruption with one of the suppliers that could impact on us.
“Physically and socially we’ve done what we can as a local authority, but we need the government to come through now.”
No specific date has been given for when the CAZ will launch, despite it eventually affecting tens of thousands of drivers in Bristol. Charges would be set at £9 a day for smaller vehicles and £100 for larger vehicles. Bristol City Council is legally required to introduce measures to cut harmful air pollution from vehicles driving in the city centre.
Exemptions had been put in place for some drivers until the end of 2022, but these will likely not continue through into 2023. However, as the launch keeps getting pushed back, it appears exempt drivers will only have a short time, if any, when they won’t have to pay the charge.