Communities across Bristol have come together to mark national Clean Air Day.
Hundreds of people attended events in College Green, Easton, Totterdown, Bishopston and Southmead Hospital yesterday (Thursday 21 June) to talk about how the city can improve air quality. The events also raised awareness about the damaging impact of exposure to harmful emissions on the health of citizens, particularly children.
Earlier this week (Wednesday 20 June), the Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees attended the national Clean Air Summit in London to identify common priorities and share best practice to reduce pollution, both nationally and locally in cities. Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, is also attended the summit.
Mayor Rees said:
“I hope Clean Air Day has highlighted what is now a national health crisis, which needs urgent attention from everyone. We know air pollution contributes to 300 deaths in Bristol per year and worryingly, it’s having a significant impact on the health of our children because their lungs and immune systems are still developing, leaving them more vulnerable to dirty air.
“I’d like to thank everyone who supported Clean Air Day this year and particularly those who are making changes to their travel habits. If we all made one small adjustment to our daily routines, we could collectively make a bigger combined impact. Please consider how you could make a difference by walking, cycling or using public transport.
“Along with other city leaders we will continue to pressure the Government to help cities like Bristol with measures to support low-income, vulnerable families and small businesses that rely on diesel vehicles to shift to cleaner cars. Change is needed but it must be fair and work for everyone.”
Bristol is developing a Clean Air Plan to reduce Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) pollution, which mostly comes from road traffic. Bristol, like most UK cities, is in breach of legal NO2 limits. The plan, in response to the Government’s directive on air pollution, is looking at a wide range of measures such as more investment in public transport and cycling, changes in traffic management, greater use of existing regulatory powers such as taxi licensing and ways to support and encourage a shift to cleaner vehicles.
Options being explored also include charging drivers of old petrol vehicles and most diesel vehicles when they enter the city centre. Cleaner vehicles would not need to pay a charge.
As the plan is developed, Bristol City Council will be talking to a range of groups, organisations and citizens. Forthcoming events will be shared at cleanairforbristol.org.
Cllr Kye Dudd, Cabinet Member for Energy with responsibility for air quality, added:
“People hear about how damaging poor air quality can be for our health, but I don’t think they realise the scale of the problem we are facing and why children in particular are more at risk. The World Health Organisation has said air pollution affects lung function development so we could be limiting the lives of our future generations by not acting now. We also know that child hospital admissions for asthma are rising, especially in some inner city areas of Bristol, which have a higher level of deprivation.
“We are developing Bristol’s Clean Air Plan right now to take action and this could mean some difficult conversations and considerations ahead. But what choice do we have if we want to ensure every child gets the best possible start in life?
“We want to hear what residents and businesses think about how we achieve cleaner air in our city so please visit our dedicated website to find out more or to get in touch.”
Bristol is using strong partnerships with the private sector to unlock investment in sustainable transport in the city and beyond. Bristol City Council’s partnership with First West of England, the largest bus operator in Bristol, has seen over 150 buses switch to low emission or low carbon, with much more to come - including bio-gas powered buses and refuelling infrastructure. Investment plans are in place to transform the entire local fleet in the next few years to Euro 6 standard.
Bus use continues to grow strongly in the city, bucking the national trend. First West of England has seen passenger numbers consistently increase by more than 10% every year since 2012. To meet growing demand Metrobus was launched - one of the largest ever rapid public transport systems which is set to transform bus travel in the Bristol region.
Please go to cleanairforbristol.org to find out more. Join the conversation about air quality by following @BCC_Clean_Air on Twitter and using #CleanAirforBristol.
Bristol City Council is developing a Clean Air Plan to reduce NO2 air pollution to within legal limits and there is a legal imperative to do this “in the shortest possible time”.
A range of options are being explored, including charging some vehicles to drive in the city centre. The five options are:
1. A small zone that charges buses, taxis, private hire vehicles, HGVs and LGVs
2. A small zone that charges buses, taxis, private hire vehicles, HGVs and LGVs and cars
3. A medium zone that charges buses, taxis, private hire vehicles, HGVs and LGVs
4. A medium zone that charges buses, taxis, private hire vehicles, HGVs and LGVs and cars
5. No charging but prohibition of diesel cars from polluted parts of the city
A final decision on the proposals for Bristol’s Clean Air Plan will be made in early 2019.
Clean Air Day: for more information about air pollution and how it impacts on health go to: https://www.cleanairday.org.uk/health-impacts-of-air-pollution
ClairCity: The University of the West of England is working with Bristol City Council on a four-year research initiative called ClairCity (www.claircity.eu). The project, which is funded by the European Union, is capturing the views of local people on air pollution. It involves thousands of other people in cities across Europe with the end goal of deciding the best local options for a future with clean air and lower carbon emissions.