12 Mar 2013 - City centre councillor Mark Wright has called for a Low Emission zone in the heart of Bristol.

The Liberal Democrat councillor says central Bristol bears the brunt of the city's soaring air pollution levels - even though more local residents walk to work and fewer of them drive.

"It's crazy. And it's the same for cyclists. Bristol has some of the highest city cycling rates in the country. Yet it's cyclists who get to breathe in the worst of Bristol's poor quality air," says Councillor Dr Wright.

At a council meeting later this week, he will make a statement calling for plans for a Low Emission Zone in the heart of the city to looked at straightaway.

This would mean users of the most polluting vehicles, mainly buses and lorries, would have to pay a fee on entering a cordon around Bristol, or an area of Bristol, encouraging them to upgrade older vehicles to newer, cleaner models, thus improving air quality.

Councillor Wright said: "I suggest the LEZ would be like the one in London, except that it would only target the most polluting vehicles over a certain tonnage, and so would generally only affect older buses and lorries.

"Users of those vehicles would have to pay a fee to enter the LEZ cordon, which could either be drawn around the whole city (as in London) or just the central areas.

"The daily fee for non-compliant vehicles for the London LEZ starts at around £100 per day for buses and lorries. Bristol's level would be set independently of that, based on local factors, and would probably be a bit cheaper."

The government is already talking about the possibility of introducing an LEZ in Bristol.

But Councillor Wright says this is not being given the priority it deserves.

The reference to it, in the papers for the Sustainable Development and Transport Scrutiny Commission, which meets on Thursday evening, only puts exploration of the idea in a list of supplementary recommendations.

Councillor Wright says: "This contains no sense of urgency or certainty. I fear that it will not be taken forward with any vigour, and will therefore fall by the wayside."

Councillor Mark Wright's full statement can be read here Low emission zone statement by Mark Wright: http://www.bristol-libdems.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Low-emission-zone-statement-by-Mark-Wright.doc

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