Bristol’s proposals for tackle air quality includes charging a Class C band Clean Air Zone which will hurt local businesses and the economy, the Freight Transport Association has warned.
Bristol City Council has launched a consultation on traffic clean air options which runs until 12th August. Mayor Marvin Rees said: “Whether you drive a car, cycle or walk, you are exposed to high levels of pollution which can cause breathing problems like asthma, plus other lung and heart problems, ultimately shortening lives. Nitrogen dioxide is one of the most harmful pollutants and is currently at illegal levels in cities across the UK, including Bristol.”
The consultation contains suggestions for either a diesel car ban or a CAZ. The FTA argued that neither of these proposals provide an effective solution to improving air quality, according to the FTA.
“CAZs bring no long-term air quality benefit; due to natural fleet replacement cycles, all vehicles operating in the city would reach this standard anyway in a few years,” said FTA policy manager for the South West of England Chris Yarsley.
“A charging CAZ of this scale would cause operating costs for some small businesses to soar. Hard-working companies and individuals – many of whom keep Bristol’s city thriving – would be left to bear the burden of improving air quality alone. It is unfair to place this solely on their shoulders, when other factors, including private road users, also contribute to emission levels across the city.”
The FTA said it is disappointed with a lack of explanation from Bristol City Council as why it is proposing a Class C band which excludes private over a Class D band which includes all vehicles. And under the proposals, only private road users would be able to take advantage of the scrappage scheme. “We are calling for the council to provide a clear rationale: why should the logistics sector be left picking up the bill, when private motorists continue to drive unsanctioned?” asked Yarsley.
He also pointed out that no details have been provided alongside the consultation. The “FTA is calling for the council to share a much clearer and more detailed version of its plans,” said Yarsley. “If Bristol does decide it must implement a charging CAZ, it should include all vehicle types within its remit; the size should also be kept as small as possible to mitigate the very worst economic damage.”