Options for tackling Bristol’s air pollution to be narrowed down without Bristolians having their say

2nd March 2018

Bristol City Council is due to narrow down options for tackling the city’s dangerous and illegal levels of air pollution at a Cabinet meeting on 6th March 2018, without public consultation.

In the absence of a public consultation, Bristol Friends of the Earth launched a programme of community engagement early in 2018 to ask Bristolians how they’d like to see the city’s air pollution tackled. Preliminary results suggest that around:

  • 73% of respondents support a charging Clean Air Zone in Bristol
  • 52% of respondents say they, or their friends or family, are personally impacted by air pollution

Commenting ahead of the decision, Siôn Elis Williams, Friends of the Earth Regional Campaigner for South West England, said:

“Bristol’s air pollution has exceeded current legal limits for decades and leads to 300 premature deaths in the city each year. Dirty air disproportionately affects the most vulnerable in society, including young children, older people and those with conditions such as asthma.

“Emissions from diesel vehicles account for 96% of dangerous nitrogen oxides (NOx) in the city centre, but the cruel injustice is that dirty air hits low-income, car-free households hardest. Easton and Lawrence Hill are two of the city’s most polluted wards and yet the rate of car-free households is 36.8% and 56.2% respectively.

“Friends of the Earth wants to see a large Clean Air Zone in Bristol because it’s the best way to improve public health for everyone in the city, and is deeply concerned that this option will be ruled out on Tuesday.

“We also want to make sure that a thorough and transparent equalities impact assessment is carried out for each of the options presented, as well as for those that are ruled out.

“An effective Clean Air Zone for the city would finally lead to fewer, and cleaner, vehicles on our roads, safer streets, more welcoming neighbourhoods and, vitally, a healthier population in Bristol. We’re calling on Bristol City Council to seek the views of all Bristolians, at least before narrowing down to a single preferred option, but we also need to see more from the UK Government – which is failing to support local authorities on air pollution.”

A local resident and NHS Nurse at the Children’s Emergency Department at Bristol’s Royal Hospital for Children says:

“On a daily basis, in my job, I care for multiple children and young people that have a new onset of asthma, shortness of breath, chest infections and other respiratory problems associated with air pollution in Bristol. The impact of air pollution on the NHS and on the lives of local families must be taken more seriously”.

Friends of the Earth is calling for urgent government action to quickly and drastically improve air quality including:

  • A large, charging Clean Air Zone that covers all vehicle types (Class D) covering the whole of Bristol to be in place as soon as possible.
    • Friends of the Earth wants to see Clean Air Zones covering 53 places in England, with Devolved Administrations considered separately – these must include all vehicle types, and be in place as soon as possible. Effective Clean Air Zones will lead to fewer (and cleaner) cars on our roads, safer streets, more welcoming neighbourhoods and, vitally, healthier lungs for our children
  • A package of supporting measures to ensure that a Clean Air Zone is implemented fairly, including:
    • A government led scrappage scheme to help people move away from the most polluting vehicles
    • Investment to give a massive boost to clean, affordable and reliable public transport in Bristol and the surrounding area
    • An improvement in infrastructure to support alternatives to driving, such as walking and cycling

Friends of the Earth is also inviting everyone across the UK to get involved in improving air quality in their local area. By ordering your own Clean Air Kit you can test the air you breathe every day and help to tackle air pollution.