A Green scrutiny councillor told a public meeting the scheme would “replace like with a cleaner like” rather than “cleaning up the air fully” when it is introduced next summer.
But senior officers at Bristol City Council said the nature of the Clean Air Zone was the direct result of the Government’s “narrow approach” to funding it.
They said Whitehall would not fund any measures, such as new cycling routes, that did not directly help to drive down NO2 levels in the city to the legal limit or below.
It comes after a member of Bristol Cycling called the Clean Air Zone a “missed opportunity” to end mass car dependency and amounted to millions of pounds being spent on “moving some people from highly polluting vehicles to slightly less polluting vehicles”.
The council announced earlier this month it had won just over £42million of government funding for a range of measures to soften the impact of the Clean Air Zone.
The bulk of that money, £34million, will be used to help businesses and people on low incomes switch to less polluting vehicles.
The rest will mostly be used for schemes such as free bus tickets, free electric bike loans and cycle training to help people switch to public transport and make more journeys by walking or cycling.
A bid for funding to build a new cycle scheme in Old Market was rejected.
A cynic might think that the government isn't fully invested in replacing some steel box journeys with active travel
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