Bristol to become the first UK city to ban diesel cars from centre by March 2021


By Isaac Haigh, Investigations Correspondent

The new plans that were under consultation over the summer have been voted on by the council. The new ‘traffic clean air zone’ will ban diesel cars from entering the zone from 7 am to 3 pm everyday by March 2021. This will affect students and residents alike.

The central areas of the city and the main arterial routes have been identified for a number of years as being in breach of the legal levels set by the UK and the EU for levels of NO2 due to the amount of vehicles using these routes. The Council’s own reports have calculated that deaths of around 300 Bristol residents could be attributed to air pollution each year.

The plans will deliver the ‘fastest possible improvement in air quality against targets for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) legal limits’.

There will also be a second wider area affecting commercial vehicles that will not ban but charge any diesel car that does not meet Euro 6 emissions, typically older vehicles.

To encourage diesel car owners to swap to less polluting cars the council is introducing a scrappage system.

Two options over the summer were under consultation. The first option was charging non-compliant buses, taxis, HGVs and LGVs, with additional measures. This charge applies once a day regardless of how many times you go in or out of the medium zone.  The second area to introduce would be a small area diesel car ban enforced between 7am to 3pm.

However, once modelled it was found that neither of these options would deliver low enough NOx concentrations in the necessary time. Both of these measures were put together to form the hybrid option.

There was initial criticism that these measures would negatively impact the poorest in Bristol disproportionately. However Martin Rees, Mayor of Bristol combatted these criticisms by saying: ‘These ambitious plans demonstrate our commitment to tackling air pollution so we meet legal limits within the shortest time, without disproportionately affecting citizens on lower incomes which would happen with a blanket approach to charging vehicles.

‘Protecting the most vulnerable people from pollution is central to these plans and we have ensured that all impacts have been carefully considered.’

Featured image: Bristol City Council

What do you think of the new plans? Is it enough?


Isaac Haigh

Chemistry PGR, News Investigations Correspondent 19/20