The Bristol Clean Air Zone: What you need to know

Bristol City Council will soon decide on the best Clean Air Zone (CAZ) option to bring air quality in line with European Union legal standards.

Here, we take a look at the current proposals and answer some of the most frequently asked questions.

Jump to the Bristol Clean Air Zone map.

The Bristol Clean Air Zone

Bristol City Council will meet in February 2021 to decide between two Clean Air Zone (CAZ) options:

  • Option 1 A CAZ covering a small area of central Bristol where older, more polluting commercial vehicles and private cars will have to pay to drive in the zone. (CAZ D on the map)
  • Option 2 A larger zone where older, more polluting commercial vehicles, but not private cars, will be charged to drive in the zone. (CAZ C on the map)1

Previous plans to ban diesel cars in the city have been scrapped by the council.

Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees said: “We are currently analysing air quality and traffic data. If the data shows that air pollution will return to pre-pandemic levels we will have to submit a case for a CAZ to Government.” 2

The Bristol CAZ aims to reduce NO2 levels to the legal maximum average of 40μg/m3.

When will the Bristol Clean Air Zone start?

A Bristol Clean Air Zone (CAZ) could be introduced by October 2021. 

The city council will meet in February to decide between a smaller CAZ, charging both commercial and private vehicles, or a larger zone, which will only charge more polluting commercial vehicles.

Deadlines for introducing the CAZ have shifted because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Bristol Clean Air Zone map

Boundaries for both a CAZ C and CAZ D can be seen below:


Image: Clean Air for Bristol

When will the Bristol CAZ apply?

Both CAZ options will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including bank holidays.

Which vehicles will be affected by the Bristol CAZ?


Both CAZ options will charge vehicles deemed non-compliant, specifically:   

  • Diesel vehicles which have Euro 5 engines or older
  • Petrol vehicles which have Euro 3 engines or older

But a decision about whether this applies to just commercial vehicles, or both commercial and private vehicles, is yet to be made and depends on whether the larger CAZ C or smaller CAZ D option is implemented.

You can learn more about Euro emissions standards here.

Bristol Clean Air Zone vehicle checker

Currently there isn’t a Bristol CAZ vehicle checker. If the council introduces a CAZ, the city will be added to the government’s checking tool.

The table below can be used as a rough guide.

Date car registered fromEmissions standard
31 December 1992Euro 1
1 January 1997Euro 2
1 January 2001Euro 3
1 January 2006Euro 4
1 January 2011Euro 5
1 September 2015 (see note)Euro 6

Only use this table is a guide – it is recommended you contact the vehicle manufacturer to check your vehicle’s standard if you are unsure. Find out more about vehicle emissions standards here.

Important note: as the Jaguar website helpfully explains3,'individual vehicles already on sale that were built by, and dispatched from, the manufacturer before 1st June 2015 can continue to be sold until 1st September 2016'. This in effect means that a car sold before 1st September 2016 may still have a Euro 5 engine. Check with the manufacturer to be certain.

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How much will the Bristol Clean Air Zone cost?

Charges have not yet been confirmed, but the latest estimates are as follows:

  Type of non-compliant vehicle    Option 1 CAZ D    Option 2 CAZ D area (inner zone)    Option 2 CAZ C area (outer zone)  
  Private petrol cars    £9    £9    No charge  
  Private diesel cars    £9    £9    No charge  
  Taxis    £9    £9    £9  
  LGVs    £9    £9    £9  
  HGVs    £100    £100    £100  
  Buses    £100    £100    £100  
  Coaches    £100    £100    £100  
Source: Clean Air for Bristol

Vehicles will only be charged once within a 24-hour period.

Is my vehicle exempt from the Bristol Clean Air Zone?


Although local exemptions for the Bristol CAZ are not confirmed, Mayor Marvin Rees has said: “we will introduce mitigations, such as exemptions for low-income workers and financial support for people to change to a cleaner vehicle.”

National exemptions already include:

  • disabled passenger tax class vehicles
  • military vehicles
  • historic vehicles
  • vehicles retrofitted with Clean Vehicle Retrofit Accreditation Scheme (CVRAS) accredited technology 4

If I don’t pay the Bristol Clean Air Zone, will I receive a penalty?

It’s unclear what penalties will apply for drivers who fail to pay the CAZ charge.

Bristol City Council may follow measures in Bath and Birmingham where motorists are issued a £120 fixed penalty charge notice (PCN), which is reduced to £60 if paid within 14 days.5,6 


How to pay the Bristol Clean Air Zone charge?

Although unconfirmed, the Bristol CAZ could follow the London Congestion Charge model and use an online portal for payments.

Bristol Clean Air Zone advice

  • the Bristol CAZ isn’t likely to come into force until October 2021 at the earliest
  • it will operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • if you are travelling to Bristol on a day-trip, check other alternatives such as train travel or bus travel, which may work out cheaper than CAZ and parking options.  


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