Hauliers will be left picking up the bill if Bristol City Council gets the go-ahead to allow private cars free access to most of its Clean Air Zone whilst charging non-compliant HGVs £100 a day, the FTA warned this week.

The warning follows the publication of the council's Clean Air Zone (CAZ) proposals this week, which recommend Bristol becomes the first city in the UK to ban all privately-owned diesel vehicles in a small area of the city centre. This area would lie within a wider CAZ which would charge non-compliant commercial vehicles but allow private cars free entry.

The council’s favoured option is a combination of its two original options. The first option was for a CAZ which would charge pre-Euro-6 buses, taxis, HGVs and LGVs, the second proposed a smaller area where diesel cars would be banned between 7am and 3pm.

The council said this week by combining the two options it would achieve “the greatest reduction in emissions in the long term, as well as reducing human exposure earlier than all other options”. Bristol Council estimates that the deaths of around 300 Bristol residents could be attributed to air pollution each year.

The FTA slammed the scheme, questioning Bristol City Council's decision to exempt private cars from most of the CAZ.

Chris Yarsley, the FTA’s policy manager for the South West of England, said: “Why should the logistics sector be left picking up the bill, when private motorists continue to drive unsanctioned?”

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He added: “If Bristol does decide it must implement a charging CAZ, it should include all vehicle types within its remit; the size should also be kept as small as possible to mitigate the very worst economic damage. We encourage all our members to submit a response to the consultation and have their voices heard.”

Yarsley also criticised the lack of detail in Bristol’s proposals. including a possible exemption for operators based within the zone, and for those with a low turnover, and called on the council to provide more information.

Mayor of Bristol Marvin Rees said: “These ambitious plans demonstrate our commitment to tackling air pollution so we meet legal limits within the shortest time, without disproportionately affecting citizens on lower incomes which would happen with a blanket approach to charging vehicles.

“Protecting the most vulnerable people from pollution is central to these plans and we have ensured that all impacts have been carefully considered. If approved, mitigation measures will support those most affected, especially those living in the most deprived communities.”

A Bristol City Council spokesperson said: "If the lorry or van paid to be in the wider Clean Air Zone, that is also due to be implemented alongside the diesel ban, then they would be fine to be in the diesel ban area. The diesel ban would operate 7am to 3pm.

"We are looking at various measures to support groups that may feel they are unfairly targeted, especially the most vulnerable."

Bristol City Council's  Outline Business Case (OBC) will be presented for approval at the council's cabinet meeting on Tuesday 5 November 2019.