Greens in Bristol have responded to news that the government is considering legal action against Bristol City Council due to its failure to produce a Clean Air plan by the end of December 2018. In Summer 2017 the Council requested funding and was provided with over half a million pounds to carry out the necessary work – since then a feasibility study was set up to explore various options for a Clean Air Zone in the city.
Environment minister Therese Coffey has written a letter to the Mayor stating that the Government gave Bristol Council the required support and funding to ensure it could meet the deadlines and said she was “absolutely astonished at [the Mayor’s] delay in improving air quality for the people of Bristol as quickly as possible.”
Cllr Jerome Thomas, deputy leader of the Bristol Green councillors said:
“Greens first passed the Council motion to commit Bristol to take action on air pollution back in 2016. Over two years later it seems the Labour administration is scarcely any closer to dealing with our city’s toxic air – to the extent that the Government is now considering legal action against the council for failing to meet its legal requirement to set out plans by the required deadline. Meanwhile, the lives of over 300 Bristolians are cut short by toxic air each year.
“I was willing to give the Mayor the benefit of the doubt for a long time, but I have to say it is beginning to look like these delays are due to either a lack of interest in prioritising clean air for Bristol or deliberate interference with the feasibility study that was commissioned to find a solution. This study is supposed to be impartial, yet the Mayor’s political views are clear from repeated statements implying he is opposed to options that charge polluting vehicles – despite this likely being the most effective way to protect the health of Bristolians. The question needs to be asked, is the Mayor letting politics get in the way of cleaning up our poisonous air? Children in our city currently inhale the equivalent of two cigarettes a day in toxic air.”
Sandy Hore-Ruthven, Bristol Green candidate for Mayor, said:
“If Bristol City Council fails in its legal duty to comply, this is a serious failure to the people of Bristol and its environment. The Mayor must provide an explanation for these delays and prioritise producing a plan for Bristol and then implement it. Whether the Mayor has been deliberately stalling while Bristol chokes or simply failing to pay attention to the clean air crisis in our city, it is frankly outrageous to continue neglecting the health and lives of Bristolians – particularly those in the most deprived areas of the city, where there are very low rates of car ownership but as many as 10% of deaths are attributable to air pollution.”