Blue Poppy

Bristol council votes to ban diesel cars in first for a UK city

Bristol is to become the first UK city to ban diesel cars from its streets as part of action to tackle illegal levels of air pollution.

The city council voted on Tuesday, following a public consultation, to impose a total ban on all privately owned diesel vehicles during the day in the city centre. The scheme, which still needs government approval, is due to start in 2021.

Bristol is one of several cities with illegal levels of air pollution from diesel traffic. The UK government has been ordered by the courts to bring air pollution levels down to legal limits in the shortest possible time.

The central ban zone in Bristol, from which privately owned diesel cars will be banned between 7am and 3pm, includes part of the M32, the old city, Redcliffe, Spike Island, the Harbourside and part of Hotwells.

Under the plans all vehicles except taxis and emergency services will incur fines if they enter the banned area, while commercial vehicles will have to pay to enter the area. A number plate recognition system will be used, similar to the one for London’s congestion charge.

The council agreed a business proposal for the idea on Tuesday, but details of what the fines would be, and which categories of vehicles and people might be exempt from the ban, are yet to be decided.

Bristol has long had poor air quality, particularly from high levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) released by diesel vehicles. It is one of 36 out of 43 local authorities in England and Wales where toxic air breaches legal limits.

UK air pollution causes an estimated 23,500 early deaths every year from NO2, rising to 40,000 when other pollutants are considered.

Bristol has gone further than the London mayor, Sadiq Khan, who has imposed clean air zones and levies in the capital to reduce air pollution.

The government has lost several legal challenges over its failure to bring toxic air down to legal limits.

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