The cabinet report recommends the approval to spend a further £12m from government, in order for Bristol to continue developing its Clean Air programme.
Bristol City Council submitted the Outline Business Case to Government in November 2019 and council officers have made significant progress in continuing the technical assessment of the preferred option and alternatives, working closely with the government’s Joint Air Quality Unit (JAQU). This further work has identified the potential to bring forward compliance to 2023, and therefore earlier improvement in air quality, improving Bristol’s public health.
Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has had an enormous impact on everyday life in Bristol and is being felt in our local economy, businesses and the people of Bristol, all of who are significantly impacted.
“We understand the moral, environmental and legal imperative to achieve clean air compliance, and remain committed to delivering clean air for the city. However, this is not an appropriate time to make life more difficult for businesses or to engage with the business community and people of Bristol on how we develop appropriate mitigations to reduce the impacts a Clean Air Zone may have for them.
"Improving air quality is a crucial challenge, for our future as a sustainable, resilient and inclusive city, but so is restarting our economy . Our economic prosperity and response to the COVID-19 crisis must put all people at the heart of what we do, enabling us to thrive as a city improving the well-being of all of our residents and businesses. We need to improve our air quality as quickly as possible and ensure we have a recovering economy, delivering inclusive growth and jobs for all Bristolians.
“We will continue the planning and development work while ensuring the implementation phase is in line with both health improvements and economic recovery. We must also look at how peoples working and travel arrangements may have changed after the impact of the pandemic.”
The development and planning will need to be followed by substantial engagement with businesses and key stakeholders at the right time and a full business case submitted to government.