A Clean Air Zone is proposed for Bristol as almost 300 deaths in the City are attributed to exposure to both Nitrogen Oxide (NO2) and fine particulate matter (PM).
This could mean drivers could end up paying a congestion charge to access the city center, and diesel owners may find themselves paying penalties on their diesel engines.
The health impacts from pollution cost the UK £20 billion, and this does not include the impact from NO2 emissions.
Dominic Anderson Gordon from the RAC talks about the proposed changes.
Transport causes the most exposure to harmful air pollutants, and air quality targets will not be achieved without a significant shift in transport policy.
Dominic believes that the public transport in Bristol should be improved before the council take these measures as he finds buses unrelieble and expensive.
He also suggests we scrap diesel buses and taxi’s before charging private vehicles, in an effort to improve air quality, this is justified due to public complaints when engines are left on at bus stops, and he is not the only one.
The effort to create Clean Air Zones is slowed by our government due to the recent news of a general election.
ClientEarth – a group of activist lawyers – are fighting for everybody’s right to breathe clean air and are committed to secure a healthy planet through advocacy, litigation and science.
Their recent success comes as Mr Justice Garnham, on Thursday ordered ministers to publish their draft plan with no delays.
James Thornton, CEO of ClientEarth, stated that:
“The judge agreed with us that this is a matter of public health, not politics.”
Garnham has given a deadline for 9 May, just five days after local elections which will take place on 4 May. He stated the government must comply with his original order and release a final policy on tackling the air crisis by the end of July.
London’s Mayor, Sadiq Khan’s plans to introduce an Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in 2019.
ClientEarth lawyer, Anna Heslop said:
“Bringing the Ultra Low Emission Zone forward is absolutely essential if we are to protect people’s health.”
How it affects Bristol
Bristol has called for similar measures, a congestion charge will be discussed after the local elections in May. There are mixed feelings in Bristol on the matter.
According to government data the city’s air quality is illegally low, and European politicians say tougher laws are needed.
Bristol has a population of around 450,000 people, this is only a fraction compared to London’s 8.6 million. The upcoming elections are a perfect opportunity for all parties to put the environment and pollution at the heart of these elections.
Some of the public have mixed views on congestion charges:
Air quality linked to deaths.
Air pollution plays a role in many of the major health challenges of our day, and has been linked to asthma, cancer, stroke and heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and changes linked to dementia.
A study by The Lancet, found that those living closest to major congestion areas are 12% more likely to be diagnosed with dementia and around 10% of Alzheimer’s in urban areas could be associated with living amid heavy traffic. Pollution is also linked to asthma which can make symptoms worse. Pollutants, such as the chemicals in traffic fumes, can quickly irritate the airways and trigger asthma attacks.
As NHS costs continue to escalate due to poor public health – Asthma alone costs the NHS an estimated £1bn a year.
Stay aware of pollution hot spots:
- Busy main roads
- Industrial sites
- Bonfires and barbecues
Be wary of household products as the lemon-and-pine scents that we use to make our homes smell fresh can react chemically to generate air pollutants, and ozone-based air fresheners can also cause indoor air pollution.
Air pollution plays a role in many of the major health challenges of our day, and has been linked to cancer, asthma, stroke and heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and changes linked to dementia. ach year, combined indoor and outdoor air pollution is responsible fro 40,000 deaths across the UK, according to the latest report carried out by the Royal College of Physicians, with an estimated 300 of those deaths in Bristol.
The image below shows air quality levels in the UK, the South and East Anglia are most polluted.
Which vehicles could be affected?
The most likely cars to be considered under the charge includes:
- hackney cabs
- private hire vehicles
- diesel cars made before 2016
- petrol cars made before January 2005
Bristol City Council issued a newsletter last year stating that steps are under way to introduce a Clean Air Zone in central Bristol and has stated:
“Clean Air Zone charges are needed to address air pollution in Bristol. The different charging criteria for petrol and diesel reflects the fact that diesel vehicles emit much higher levels of pollution than petrol vehicles.”
8.5% of adult deaths in Bristol are attributable to air quality in the city. This compares to an average of 9 people killed each year in road traffic accidents on roads in the city.