Bristol City Council has spent almost £3m on a new fleet of diesel vehicles that would potentially have to pay to enter its own clean air zone.
The consultation on the clean air zone began on July 1, just weeks before the 12-month vehicle contracts worth £2.7m were signed.
On July 26, the city council purchased replacement vehicles from Toyota and Renault under a plan to replace old vehicles and purchase 342 new ones in order to save £2.3m.
The council says that of the 135 vehicles replaced to date, 19 have been EVs, 64 diesel and 52 petrol. 207 are still to be replaced, with no fuel type specification yet agreed although 10 more EVs are being tendered for.
Council-owned buildings including City Hall and the 100 Temple Street offices are both within the CAZ. Private vehicles would be banned if the council’s plans are approved with commercial vehicles facing a charge.
The EV proposals were signed off by Green party member Fi Hance who was the cabinet member for Energy, Waste and Regulatory Service, just weeks before the mayor replaced her with Labour councillor Kye Dudd.
The consultation on the clean air zone began on 1 July, just weeks before the vehicle contracts were signed. Two options were consulted on; Option 1 with a compliance date to legal air quality limits of 2030, and option 2, the diesel ban for private cars and a charge for commercial cars, with a compliance date of 2025.
After two missed deadlines and a threat of having to repay £1.65 m grant from central government, the diesel ban was the one that would reach compliance earliest. The council were legally obligated to choose the earliest possible date.
According to the council’s own Air Quality Modelling report,”Diesel cars followed by diesel LGVs have the highest proportional NOx impact across all locations. Petrol cars have a relatively low NOx impact given that they represent around half of the car fleet”.
A spokesperson for Bristol City Council said: “We’re supporting the city to become carbon neutral by 2030. This includes our own target of being a carbon neutral council by 2025. To hit this target we’re reducing our carbon footprint across all departments and that includes upgrading our fleet to replace older vehicles. So far we’ve introduced 135 new vehicles for use across all services with another 207 due to be brought in over the next couple of years with 10 percent of the final fleet being electric. Of those purchased already, 64 are diesel and all conform to current emissions standards.
“Bristol city council has a legal duty to improve our air quality. The full detail of the proposed clean air zone has yet to be established and will not be finalised until an agreed full business case is published. How the council’s fleet is used in future will be influenced by the final scheme put in place but both initiatives aim to achieve the same goal of reducing air pollution and establishing Bristol as a carbon neutral city.”
Cabinet approved the Outline Business Case to Cabinet on November 5, 2019 and it was sent to JAQU on November 6. The full business case will go to cabinet for approval in February 2020. The implementation date for Clean Air Zones nationally is March 2021.