Green councillors in Bristol have re-iterated their full support for the actions of Extinction Rebellion protestors who have spent a fourth night on the roof of Bristol City Hall calling for immediate action on clean air.
Traffic on Bristol’s streets has begun to increase following lockdown and data collected by Bristol Council is showing that air pollution levels have now returned to above legal limits in June (1). Green councillors said that it is now inevitable that congestion and air pollution in Bristol will become even worse than before lockdown as people begin to return to work but use of public transport is much lower due to social distancing and fear of coronavirus.
Councillors said that peaceful protest action was entirely justified after four years of the Mayor failing to implement a Clean Air Zone. They point out that as well as causing a range of health problems for Bristolians breathing polluted air, the return of motor traffic to Bristol’s roads risked exacerbating a second spike in coronavirus as evidence grows that dirty air exacerbates the impact of the virus.”
Green Councillor Jerome Thomas said:
“Our right to clean air is as basic and important as our right to clean drinking water. It’s now nearly 4 years since the Council passed a Green motion calling for a Clean Air Zone and yet despite the Council spending millions of pounds on consultants, Bristol is no closer to clean, breathable air. After four years of failure from Marvin Rees to act on clean air, I fully support protestors taking peaceful socially-distanced action to voice their frustration at the city’s continuing illegal and unsafe air quality and call on the Mayor to speak with the protestors to explain just how he intends to clean up Bristol’s air, with the urgency that is needed.”
Councillor Eleanor Combley added:
“Streets should be the centre of our communities where children can play, people can sit outside their doors and open their windows without being scared to breathe the dirty air. Wherever we live in Bristol, clean air is a right, not a luxury. We can build a city where we can all breathe legal, clean air but to do so we need immediate action – further delays are completely unacceptable.”
Sandy Hore-Ruthven, Bristol Green Party’s mayoral candidate, says
“The Mayor has a golden opportunity to deliver a fairer and greener future by taking action on air quality. Implementing a clean air zone that applies to all polluting diesel vehicles would improve the quality of life for some of the must vulnerable families living in pollution hotspots, and reduce harmful pollution more generally across the city. The question is.. will he take that opportunity or will he continue to shy away from making a decision much as he has done over the last four years?”
Around 250 deaths each year in Bristol are attributed to air pollution, as much as 1 in 10 deaths in some parts of the city.
XR graphic – average weekly air pollution in Bristol City Centre exceeded legal limit of 40 μgm-3 in the third week of June – https://twitter.com/RobBryher/status/1276070507042013185
BCC open data on air pollution shows current and average air pollution stats for streets in Bristol -https://opendata.bristol.gov.uk/pages/air-quality-dashboard-new/map#air-quality-now. While recorded air pollution plummeted during lockdown, some streets now have air pollution levels of 122 μgm-3 and higher, up to 3 times the legal limit of 40 μgm-3.
Greens are calling for a Medium Zone Class D which charges all older polluting vehicles.