Diesel ban in city 'could increase traffic outside'

January 02 2020

BOLD plans for Bristol to become the first city to ban diesel vehicles could bring additional traffic to Kingswood and other areas on the outskirts, the RAC has warned.

The city council has come up with two schemes to cut pollution in the city. The first is a ban on all privately-owned diesel vehicles in an area around the Centre, Broadmead, Redcliffe and the Harbourside between 7am and 3pm, seven days a week. The second is a clean air zone (CAZ) where more polluting commercial vehicles would be charged a daily fee of between £9 and £100 to enter the central area. Drivers of commercial vehicles who had paid to enter the CAZ could also drive through the central diesel ban zone.

Private diesel cars would also be banned from Bond Street, Temple Way, Redcliffe Way and the A420 Old Market Street, inside the Midland Road junction.

The final plan is due to be submitted to government in February 2020, and the deadline for implementation is March 2021. The council has estimated that the plan will bring down the city’s nitrogen dioxide levels to within legal limits by 2025.

Members of Bristol’s overview and scrutiny management board raised concerns that many drivers would simply skirt around the edges of each zone to avoid paying charges and penalties, pushing traffic congestion, parking problems and exhaust fumes to other areas.

Councillor Clive Stevens (Green, Clifton Down) said: “If we have a scheme that…is just pushing the dirty air around, that is not going to save lives at all.”

The RAC says drivers trying to avoid the zones could start looking for new routes.

A spokesman said: “Major routes into, out of, and even around the city would become out of bounds, with diesel vehicles forced onto other roads, which risks causing congestion problems where they don’t exist.”

But the NHS has backed the scheme. Ruth May, the NHS chief nursing officer for England, said: “Saving lives through reducing toxic fumes is everyone’s business.  Bristol is right to take action."

Researchers at King’s College have found that children living near busy roads in Bristol are predicted to have five per cent less lung growth than children living in, less polluted streets. The likelihood of people developing coronary heart disease goes up by eight per cent.

The researchers also found that high levels of nitrogen dioxide and PM2.5 particulates contribute to up to 260 premature deaths each year in Bristol, with 47 to 61 of them in the east of the city.

Jo Chesterman, of the St George Breathing Better campaign, wants urgent action. Her daughter Flo has had severe asthma since she was two.

" I don't know if air pollution caused her asthma but it definitely makes it worse. We walk to school through toxic pollution," she said.

Summerhill Infant School in Clouds Hill Road had the second-highest reading for toxic nitrogen dioxide when city schools were monitored in 2018 and Breathing Better has run a campaign to challenge drivers who park with their engine running around schools.

But Jo said the council have done nothing to improve the air quality outside the school and the "hot spot" of the A420 and Plummers Hill.

"East Bristol fails to be on the council’s radar for any strategies to reduce air pollution,” she said.