Air pollution fears at Harbourside event space due to diesel generators

-Credit: (Image: Nadine Ballantyne)
-Credit: (Image: Nadine Ballantyne)

A faulty power supply at a Harbourside event space means revellers are breathing in polluted air from diesel generators. The Amphitheatre hosts several large events every summer, most of which cannot be powered by the local electric supply after a safety inspection found flaws.

This means events such as Bristol Sounds or the Great Bristol Run must rely on generators burning diesel, which emit nitrogen dioxide, a pollutant that harms human health. The Clean Air Zone aims to cut the amount of polluting diesel vehicles, but doesn’t affect diesel generators.

Bosses at Bristol City Council are now hoping to spend £800,000 to upgrade the electric supply at the Amphitheatre, to avoid the need for generators in future. Councillors on the transport policy committee on Thursday (July 11) are due to sign off the plans to upgrade the supply.

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A committee report said: “Currently the power supply and electrical installations on the site do not offer the required capacity to run or facilitate larger music, food, cultural events and festivals without the provision of diesel generators to increase the level of power on-site to that required to deliver these events.

“Diesel generators are polluting, generating particulate and nitrogen dioxide pollution that is harmful to health. They also generate CO2 emissions which are damaging to the environment and in the long term, to public health.

“Many people are encouraged to spend time at events in locations where air pollution should be relatively good as they are away from roads. However, the diesel generators can impact significantly on air pollution levels.”

The Amphitheatre, next to the Lloyds Bank building, was created in the redevelopment of the Harbourside in the 1990s. The site hosts events across 30 days a year in total with a capacity of over 86,000 people.

These events use an estimated 83,902 kilowatt-hours of electricity each year, according to the committee report. To provide this much power, generators would use an estimated 25,424 litres of diesel, creating 63,136 kilograms of carbon dioxide, a climate-warming greenhouse gas.