Bristol's watered down pollution plan faces Defra scrutiny

13/02/2020
Chris Ames

The ongoing battle between Bristol City Council and government over the authority's failure to address air quality issues has taken another turn after it watered down its most recent efforts. 

Bristol’s attempts to avoid charging drivers of private vehicles under a Clean Air Zone (CAZ) could be at risk after the Government said it would ensure the council’s plan cuts air pollution as quickly as possible.

The council has watered down one element of its plan – a proposal for a city centre ban on commercial vehicles – since submitting the plan for government approval.

A Defra spokesperson told Highways: ‘We will assess Bristol City Council’s plan to ensure it is effective, fair, good value and will deliver the required improvements in air quality in the shortest time possible. We will respond to this plan in due course.’

As Highways has reported, Bristol has been reluctant to implement a Class D CAZ, which charges drivers of the more polluting private vehicles.

Instead it has combined a Class C CAZ, which exempts private vehicles with a potential diesel ban.

However, for reasons that are unclear, the council does not appear to have modelled the impact of combining a Class D CAZ with the diesel ban.

Such an approach could well bring nitrogen dioxide pollution within legally binding limits more quickly than the council’s proposals, which are not expected to achieve compliance until the middle of the decade.

In October, Katie Nield, a lawyer with environmental campaign group ClientEarth told Transport Network that the proposals ‘stop short of ridding the city of its illegally toxic air with the necessary urgency’.

The council has also repeatedly missed government deadlines to develop its plans, despite threats of legal action that have yet to be acted on.

It submitted an outline business case to environment department Defra last November and has yet to provide a full business case.

”Local
Source: Mayor of Bristol blog

In a blog post in late January, Bristol mayor Marvin Rees wrote: ‘Let me reassure [residents] that we are making good progress on refining the plans and hope to be able to flesh out more of the details in the next couple of months.’

He wrote that council officials ‘have been in regular discussion with the Government’s Joint Air Quality Unit (JAQU), but we are still waiting for their formal direction on the next stage of our plans. We will hopefully get this in the next few weeks.’

Mr Rees added that discussions on how best to minimise the impact of the plans ‘have led to us making some adjustments to the diesel ban area’.

These include allowing diesel cars to travel from the A370 to the A4, allowing access to Cabot Circus shopping centre for diesel cars and dropping plans for a weight restriction on Marlborough Street and Upper Maudlin Street.

He wrote: ‘Following extensive modelling it was agreed to remove the weight restrictions because this didn’t contribute to achieving compliance any sooner than if a weight restriction was applied.’

Significantly, Mr Rees did not assure residents that reducing the area covered by the diesel ban would not affect compliance dates.

He added that the council was very close to agreeing a package of exemptions and mitigation measures, which is likely to include exemptions for disabled passenger vehicles and blue badge holders, for exemptions for low income households and for patients needing to access the hospital.

Mr Rees acknowledge that the council does not have the legal powers for a diesel ban but said it was continuing to work with the Government on this.

Highways has approached Bristol City Council for comment.

Highways jobs

Regeneration Delivery Manager - Heritage Action Zone

Royal Borough of Greenwich
£42684 - £45585 per annum
(Fixed Term Opportunity until March 2024)Woolwich town is undergoing a period of intensive regeneration with huge investment in new housing, transport England, London, Woolwich
Recruiter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Senior Local Engineer

Birmingham City Council
£27,741 - £34,728
The Senior Local Engineer role is to provide technical service at senior level to Local Engineering teams Birmingham, West Midlands
Recruiter: Birmingham City Council

Traffic & Transportation Engineer

Conwy County Borough Council
£41,881 - £44,863 per annum
You should have a degree or diploma in civil engineering or other relevant discipline, and extensive experience in... North Wales
Recruiter: Conwy County Borough Council

Principal Development Co-ordinator

Gloucestershire County Council
£33,799.00 - £38,813.00 + 12% MRS
Leading on the review of Major Development Proposals. Gloucester, Gloucestershire
Recruiter: Gloucestershire County Council

Highways Development Management (HDM) Manager

Gloucestershire County Council
£53,445.00 - £58,008.00 + MRS
To oversee all aspects of Highways Development Management from pre application discussions to road adoption. Gloucester, Gloucestershire
Recruiter: Gloucestershire County Council

Principal Development Engineer

Gloucestershire County Council
£33,799.00 - £38,813.00 + 12% MRS
You will be responsible for undertaking design audit of third party developer works under Section 38 and 278 of the Highways Act 1980. Gloucester, Gloucestershire
Recruiter: Gloucestershire County Council

Director of Environment

Southwark London Borough Council
Up to £136,000
A fairer future for all A fairer future for all Southwark, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Southwark London Borough Council

Director of Public Health

Southwark London Borough Council
Up to £136,000
A fairer future for all Southwark, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Southwark London Borough Council

Parks Development Officer

Kirklees Metropolitan Council
£26,999 - £29,636 per annum
You will work with community groups, organisations, ward members, residents and colleagues in order to... Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recruiter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Head of Infrastructure & Facilities

East Riding of Yorkshire Council
circa 100k
We are seeking a Head of Infrastructure & Facilities to lead the strategic management of the service in a unique and exciting opportunity for a... Beverley, East Riding of Yorkshire
Recruiter: East Riding of Yorkshire Council

Senior Professional and Technical Officer – Project Manager

Bristol City Council
£32,910 - £34,728
We are seeking to appoint a Project Manager, to work in the Transport Service, to help support the delivery of the above plans. Bristol
Recruiter: Bristol City Council

Policy Advisor – The Independent Commission on Civil Aviation Noise (ICCAN)

Department for Transport
£37,803
Look to the sky for a great career opportunity Woking, Surrey
Recruiter: Department for Transport

Skilled Road Worker (TRR)

London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth
£26,025 - £31,536 depending on knowledge, skills and experience
Do you want to be part of a supportive team and use an innovative method of working on the highway? London (Greater)
Recruiter: London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and London Borough of Wandsworth

Assistant Director of Transport & Sustainability

Royal Borough of Greenwich
£93,098 - £102,841
This dynamic role will see you provide strategic leadership to our transport strategy Greenwich, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Highways Customer Communications Officer

North Yorkshire County Council
£27,741 to £30,451
We are looking for a strong communicator to join our Highways Team in Boroughbridge.   Boroughbridge, York
Recruiter: North Yorkshire County Council

Assistant Engineer - Grade 2

Northumberland County Council
£24,313 and £26,999
We are looking for candidates to fill the post of Assistant Engineer. Morpeth, Northumberland
Recruiter: Northumberland County Council

Street Cleaning Operative / Driver

Barnet London Borough Council
Competitive Salary
We are looking for hard working, motivated, reliable people to join our team. Barnet (City/Town), London (Greater)
Recruiter: Barnet London Borough Council

Highways Manager - Operations

Lancashire County Council
£46,566-£50,514 Per annum
Lancashire is a vibrant and striking place to live and work and it’s also one of the fastest growing locations in the UK. Lancashire
Recruiter: Lancashire County Council

Highways Inspector

Hackney London Borough Council
£28,752 - £32,577
We are looking for an organised and self-motivated individual to join our Streetworks Team based in Hackney Central. Hackney, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Hackney London Borough Council

Senior Network Support Engineer

The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council
£36,600 - £49,600 per annum
We are looking for an experienced Senior Networks Support Engineer to provide up to date... Kensington and Chelsea, London (Greater)
Recruiter: The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council

Highways on Fridays

Register now!

Latest Issue

latest magazine issue
  • Shell celebrates 100 years of bitumen
  • Why we need to be more strategic about safety
  • Major reforms aim to close cycling gap
View the latest issue

Latest Video