The Bristol diesel ban - what you need to know
What is the diesel ban?
In March 2021, Bristol City Council will prevent
privately-owned diesel vehicles entering its central zone between 7am and 3pm
every day. Commercial vehicles will be allowed in but will be charged.
There will also be a wider clean air zone (CAZ)
with additional restrictions. Here, private cars will be allowed but
diesel-powered lorries, vans, buses and taxis will have to pay. Once they have
paid, they will also be allowed in the central zone.
The outline case for the plans has been approved
by the Cabinet; a full business case will be submitted for Cabinet approval in
Why are they introducing the ban?
Particulates and nitrogen dioxide have been
contributors to poor air quality in Bristol’s city centre and cutting the
number of vehicles which create them - notably older diesel models - will help
reduce the pollution.
Bristol City Council is under a legal obligation
to reduce pollution in the city and has already missed government deadlines for
providing details of its plans.
Which area of Bristol is impacted?
The area banning private cars will include the
old city, Redcliffe, Spike Island, the Harbourside, part of Hotwells and even a
section of the M32.
How much will it cost to enter the clean air zone?
Taxis and vans will pay a daily charge of £9;
buses and HGVs will pay £100.
Private diesel cars will not be charged to enter
the wider clean air zone.
How will they know if I try to drive my diesel car into the centre?
Like the London congestion charge system,
Bristol plans to use automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras.
Why is the ban significant?
It is likely to have a positive effect on air
quality but the implications are far-reaching and will affect people and the
We all appreciate burning fossil fuels at the
current rate isn’t sustainable. Therefore not to distinguish between petrol and
diesel in the ban makes limited sense. And in the short term, many drivers who
rely on a car to get into the city may simply switch to petrol rather than
hybrids or EVs. The move is likely to hit lower income families who might have
chosen a diesel for its improved economy over a petrol car (and may now face
the cost of changing vehicle to maintain their mobility locally).
And with new, cleaner, Euro 6-compliant cars
gracing our roads, there is a strong argument that the ban misses older and
dirtier commercial vehicles - such as the ones which councils tend to operate
for services such as refuse collection. More significantly, it will hit bus
operators with the risk of making certain routes less viable - and therefore
encouraging people back into cars.
Lesser-understood is the longer-term commercial
impact. Haulier margins are already tight, so it will present greater economic
challenges for city-centre deliveries since HGVs are almost completely
diesel-powered. Further economic strain could easily tip the balance between
profitability and loss-making for many of those high street shops and
supermarkets already struggling.
Will further cities adopt similar restrictions?
The answer is almost certainly yes, with London
and Birmingham among those also considering plans. But many will be closely
watching the impact on Bristol and whether it is the right approach.
*Cover photo credit: Paul Gillis/Western Daily Press
About the Author
Andrew is a freelance motoring journalist with a background in IT and the vehicle leasing industry. With a lifetime’s passion for all things automotive, he can be found behind the wheel of everything from vans to supercars. In addition to reviewing the latest vehicles and technology, Andrew also runs a couple of classic British motors. He lives at the edge of the Peak District with his son and cat.
Andrew Wright @theMotorWriter