The Head of City Transport presented the Clean Air Zone (CAZ) item.
The Chair noted that the Full Business Case (FBC) originally submitted in February 2021 had been adjusted and asked for clarification about the primary reason for delay. In response, the Head of City Transport advised that incorporation of better mitigation for low income residents and businesses was a key element, as well as the Joint Air Quality Unit’s (JAQU) request that the Council meet the legal compliance targets whilst implementing sustainable transport options to continue improvements.
Members asked if there was any substantial harm to health due to the delay of the CAZ and it was confirmed that this hadn’t been fully assessed to date but there was a significant decrease in emissions in the city centre due to road changes following Covid-19 that were not in the original CAZ proposals, for example the closure of Bristol Bridge.
Members went on to consider modal shift and the Head of City Transport advised that the Council had submitted a number of suggestions for sustainable transport options, but most were not deliverable in time for meeting legal compliance. Furthermore, lots of initiatives were already being funded as part of existing schemes.
The impact of wood burning on climate change was discussed and the Climate Change Service Manager confirmed that this was a separate project to the CAZ; the primary focus was nitrogen dioxide pollution as opposed to the burning of fossil fuels.
Members queried the arrangements for CAZ charges for those visiting hospital and were advised that this group of people were likely to be exempt.
A Member asked about the cost of establishing the number plate recognition system and was advised that the total was not yet known but details could be provided in due course.
There was concern around the impact of traffic in neighbourhoods adjacent to the CAZ and Members were advised that there would be a general reduction in traffic overall but mitigation around ‘rat running’ would be difficult before the CAZ was introduced as affected areas were difficult to predict. It was confirmed that an application for funding to enable relevant monitoring had been submitted.
In response to a query from a Member, the Head of City Transport advised that the focus would be on moving residents over to electric vehicles rather than other forms of sustainable transport as this was the simplest way to meet compliance before the legal deadline. Members asked when detail would be published on when grants/loans that would become available and how people could apply but it was advised that this was not yet confirmed although it was expected to be at some point in autumn 2021.
Members asked about the improvement of transport links and were advised that local transport authorities were working on a bus improvement plan and the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) would be submitting a strategy in October 2021.
Members noted that the Public Forum statements around the CAZ raised some very important points that should be considered at Cabinet specifically around the impact of the delay on resident’s health.
Resolved; that the Clean Air Zone Public Forum Statements received at the meeting be referred to Cabinet meeting on 13th July 2021 alongside a statement from the Board setting out the concerns about the delay of the CAZ.