I am delighted that Bristol City Council and South Gloucestershire Council have successfully bid for £500,000 of funding to assess how to implement a Clean Air Zone in the city.
The deaths of hundreds of people in Bristol every year can be linked to air pollution, so it is good news that Bristol City Council has secured government funding to tackle this problem. Many congratulations to Marvin Rees and his team for working to secure this vital grant.
The money will fund a feasibility study for the introduction of a Clean Air Zone in the city, and could be completed in early 2018.
I've long campaigned for action to be taken on Bristol’s harmful air quality levels. During my election campaign I highlighted the dangerous levels of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) in the air outside St Michael’s School in the city centre, for example.
I recently secured a meeting with environment minister Dr Thérèse Coffey MP to discuss Bristol’s air quality. In this meeting my fellow Bristol MPs and I impressed on the minister the need for Bristol to take additional measures to tackle pollution levels in the city, and that government funding was necessary to support this work.
A Clean Air Zone will give the local authority powers to ensure that vehicles that entering the zone meet emissions standards. This is an important step to reduce the amount of harmful particulates entering the air, as older diesel vehicles particularly contribute to the proliferation of NO2 in Bristol.
Reducing the pollution in the air we breathe requires all of us to take action. But the government needs to commit to this aim too. Thus while the announcement of funding for the Clean Air Zone study is welcome, it is important that the government properly invests in infrastructure solutions for the city. This includes electrifying the rail line to reduce the number of diesel-fuelled trains serving our stations.
Nevertheless, this funding is an important step in the right direction, and I’ll be continuing to campaign to improve the quality of the air we breathe in our city.