Bristol’s Clean Air Zone has begun operations shortly after midnight. Drivers of some of the most polluting vehicles will now be charged a £9 daily fee to enter the city center.
Health and environmental activists have applauded the move, but some business owners are concerned that it will harm trade.
Bristol mayor, Marvin Rees, said: “What an incredible milestone we’ve achieved today.”
The Clean Air Zone (CAZ), which covers a central area of the city and a portion of the Portway, is expected to reduce air pollution in the city.
No vehicles are prohibited from entering the CAZ, but older and more polluting vehicles are charged. This is £9 for private cars, taxis, and light goods vehicles, and £100 for heavy goods vehicles, buses, and coaches. Bristol City Council estimates that approximately 70% of vehicles will not be charged.
Carla Denyer, a Bristol City councillor and co-leader of the Green Party, said the move had “certainly been a long-time coming”. “It is so important that we tackle the air pollution in Bristol,” she added.
She claimed that pollution claimed 300 lives in Bristol each year and harmed children’s brain development.
Individuals and businesses are “fully responsible for managing this,” according to Bristol City Council, and will not receive written notification or any kind of alert that they have entered the CAZ or that a payment is due.
Mr. Rees said that the CAZ will “help create a city that is healthier for everyone to grow up, live and work in”.
He added that the council is “mindful of the financial strain people are under at the moment” and that it has taken its “time to find a way to clean up our air, while also providing support to those who need it most”.
He also mentioned that temporary exemptions and financial assistance are available. Daily charges are in effect 24 hours a day, seven days a week, all year, and must be paid within six days of departure.
In addition to the outstanding daily charge, failure to pay the daily charge will result in a full Penalty Charge Notice of £120, or £60 if paid within 14 days.
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