Bristol urged to come together on Clean Air Day to cut toxic fumes: Clean Air for Bristol 08.10.20

08 Oct 2020

Environment Sustainability Transport

Bristol urged to come together on Clean Air Day to cut toxic fumes

Bristolians are being urged to unite and make small lifestyle changes to reduce pollution as Bristol City Council marks Clean Air Day 2020.

The council is calling on local people, businesses and organisations to consider how small changes can make a big difference in cutting toxic fumes across the city – and to make use of the free tools and advice available to help people be the change.

People are being encouraged to think twice before using open fires or wood-burning stoves, to walk, cycle or scoot for short journeys, and to turn off car engines when stationary.

In the meantime, the council is giving more priority to buses, pedestrians and cyclists on roads across the city, such as Bristol Bridge and Baldwin Street, to make less polluting journeys a more attractive option for everyone.

It is hoped that major transport improvements combined with behaviour change across the city may help to clean up Bristol’s air quality, maintaining the positive changes we experienced during lockdown and lessening the need to charge or ban certain vehicles via a Clean Air Zone. However, if pollution returns back to the illegal, pre-COVID-19 levels, a charging zone will be required.

A new consultation has also been launched today (Thursday 8 October) for the public to have their say on revised proposals for a CAZ, should this be needed, that would charge certain vehicles. This is being done to ensure Bristol can meet its legal obligations to reduce air pollution as quickly as possible.

Mayor Marvin Rees said: “It has been an immensely challenging year but we have moved quickly to try and capture the benefits that lockdown brought to our environment and air quality by accelerating major transport improvements, such as the pedestrianisation of the Old City.

“But we cannot take on the task of delivering clean air alone - we need all of Bristol’s help if we are to protect each other from dangerous pollution and toxic fumes.

“Everyone faces their own unique set of obstacles in tackling the environmental challenges we all face so we would encourage everyone to look at the changes they can make to their own lifestyles. No matter how big or small the change is, it will make a difference if we all work together, and the council is here to help people along their journey. If we unite we can make our city a healthier place for everyone to live.”

The council is drawing on conclusions from independent academics within the ClairCity project, which collected local views and found that Bristolians want to contribute to tackling environmental problems.

Professor Enda Hayes, Director of UWE Bristol’s Air Quality Management Resource Centre, said: “Citizens clearly seek ambitious targets to reduce air pollution and climate change causing carbon emissions in Bristol. Our research shows that citizen involvement in these discussions can spur on city wide action. People want to change but need support from our businesses, workplaces, councils and national government if we want to live with clean air.

“The West of England is faced with the daunting task of reducing air pollution and carbon emissions to safe levels as soon as possible. These citizen supported ideas indicate that it’s not just about banning or phasing out polluting vehicles - the conditions have to be created so that citizens can access local amenities without polluting our environment and health. ClairCity shows that the task of future proofing the city can be sped up with the involvement of Bristol’s citizens.”

How people can minimise their contribution to air pollution – and how the council can help:

  • Change how you get around - walk, cycle or scoot for short journeys if you can:
    - Get out and enjoy the improvements the council is making to walking and cycling routes across the city with new bike lanes, pavement widening and prioritising some roads for buses, pedestrians and cyclists by removing through traffic.
    - Try out an electric scooter in the upcoming trial being managed by the West of England Combined Authority. Find out more at info/projects/e-scooter-trial
    - Make use of cycling lessons, travel planning sessions, free bike hire, maps and journey planning which are available to help people new to cycling and with a range of abilities at info and travelwest.info/communities
    - Win shopping vouchers by logging walking and cycling journeys through the Active October challenge with Travelwest and Sustrans
    - Make suggestions for how the council can further improve walking and cycling in your area at gov.uk/covidtransport
  • Reduce your stove or fire impact: Bristol is a smoke control area, meaning you can only burn authorised fuels in an open fire. You are not allowed to burn wood in an open fire. You can burn other fuels if you have an exempt appliance. Ensure you are abiding by the rules by visiting gov.uk/smoke-control-area-rules. If you have an open fire or log burner you can visit www.cleanairforbristol.org for a range of options that can help you to reduce your impact, including minimising usage and switching to cleaner fuel.
  • Recycle your waste, never burn it: You can recycle more waste than ever. Find out what you can recycle at bristolwastecompany.co.uk/household/get-it-sorted
  • Turn off your vehicle engine when stopped especially around air pollution and idling hotspots, such as schools and hospitals. This simple action has been shown to reduce local air pollution by up to 30%. Find out more at www.cleanairforbristol.org
  • Have your say on a charging zone for vehicles: Complete the online survey at gov.uk/caz2020 before 22 November 2020. If you would like a paper copy or the information in an alternative format please email transport.engagement@bristol.gov.uk or call 07775115909.
  • Get others involved: Check out the ClairCity project led by the University of the West of England and make use of their Community Activator Pack. This toolkit provides tips and methods to help air pollution activists reach more marginalised voices and make a greater impact on air quality. Find the pack and other useful resources at claircity.eu/category/action-kits

Cllr Kye Dudd, Cabinet Member for Transport and Energy, said: “Lockdown brought with it many challenges, but we also saw air pollution drop by half as people’s lifestyles shifted so dramatically. While some of those changes can’t last forever, it demonstrates our inspiring ability to work together and adapt in order to protect not just our own health but that of our neighbours. 

“We are working tirelessly to make changes to systems across the city, including transport, housing and energy services, to ensure that we reduce their contributions to air pollution. But we all have a role to play in protecting our environment and we encourage everyone to do everything they possibly can to look after their communities.”