British city bans diesel cars

Bristol will become the first British city to ban diesel cars in a bid to cut pollution. See related  Bristol City Council made the decision on Tuesday to introduce a total ban on privately owned diesel cars from entering the city centre during daytime hours. The scheme is due to start in 2021, pending government approval.

Mayor Marvin Rees said there is a "moral, ecological and legal duty" to reduce pollution. "A city is like a big Rubik's Cube - you move one thing, other things come out of kilter. That's why we take the time to think about it and begin to take action," The Independent reports. Bristol is one of several UK cities suffering from poor air quality, particularly from high levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2).

Its council is under a legal obligation to reduce air pollution, with an emphasis on lowering toxic NO2 levels, as soon as possible. Bristol is one of 36 out of 43 local authorities in England and Wales where toxic air breaches legal limits, and it has twice missed government deadlines for providing details of a clean air zone, says the BBC. The new diesel ban will form part of an attempt to bring Bristol's air pollution to within legal limits by 2025.

The ban zone in Bristol includes part of the M32, the old city, Redcliffe, Spike Island, the Harbourside and part of Hotwells, says The Guardian. Privately owned diesel cars will be banned between 7am and 3pm, and commercial vehicles will have to pay to enter the zone, with the exception of taxis. Other vehicles will be fined if they go into the area. Vans will pay GBP9 a day and HGV operators must fork out GBP100 per day - and they will also be required to pay this fee to enter a wider "Clean Air Zone" that extends further outside the city centre.

A number plate recognition system - similar to the one used for London's congestion charge - will be used to enforce the ban.

Air pollution causes 40,000 deaths per year in the UK, with an estimated 23,500 early deaths every year a result of NO2 pollution.

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