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Source: City of Portsmouth

Recommendations are being made to Cabinet on how Portsmouth City Council could respond to the government’s ministerial directive to impose a Clean Air Zone.

Following extensive transport and air quality modelling it has been identified that a Class B charging Clean Air Zone in an area to the south west of the city will deliver compliance with legal limits for nitrogen dioxide in the shortest possible time. This would meet the obligations imposed by the government on to Portsmouth City Council.

Councillor Dave Ashmore, Cabinet Member for Environment & Climate Change, said: “The government are imposing this on the city. I’m sorry they have ignored all the suggestions we made to them to improve air quality, and their decision just to target car, lorry and taxi drivers.

“If approved by Cabinet the plan would be submitted to the government at the end of the month. The government will then scrutinise our plan before making a decision as to whether it is appropriate or not for meeting legal limits for concentrations of nitrogen dioxide in the shortest possible time.”

The recommendation from the government’s Joint Air Quality Unit (JAQU) is that local authorities choose the lowest class of CAZ that achieves compliance in the shortest possible time. Therefore this indicates for Portsmouth a Class B and would exclude private cars from being charged.

Within a Class B non-compliant (i.e. vehicles not at least Euro VI diesel, or Euro IV petrol), buses, coaches, taxis and private hire vehicles would be charged to enter the CAZ. 

Extensive modelling has demonstrated that a CAZ in the south west of Portsmouth will achieve compliance with air quality levels in 2022.

Councillor Dave Ashmore continued: “Although we are responding to the government’s imposition of a CAZ I have always said this alone is not the solution. There are lots of other things the council, individuals and businesses will need to do to improve air quality. We have looked at the funding that is available and we will be making a bid for as much as possible to introduce other more long-lasting measures that will reduce the impact of air pollution.”

The measures that are being put forward for approval at Cabinet also include a number of non-charging measures to help ensure that compliance is met in the shortest possible time. These measures include:

  • Changes to traffic signal timings at Alfred Road
  • Improvements to two strategic cycle routes in the city
  • Travel planning
  • Review of car parking charges
  • Behaviour change campaign

Within the Local Air Quality Plan the council will be requesting grant funding from JAQU for measures that will help to achieve compliance with legal limits for nitrogen dioxide.

As well as the funding available for delivery of compliance, the government has also announced a £220 million Clean Air Fund (CAF) that is intended to pay for mitigation measures, to help individuals and business most impacted by the CAZ. This is a competitive fund and selection will be based on the evidence provided about impact on low income groups and small businesses (i.e those least able to cope with the CAZ charges). Measures to mitigate the impact of the zone that PCC are seeking funding from the CAF include:

  • Financial support for impacted vehicle owners towards retrofit or replacement of non-compliant vehicles.
  • Support to businesses to review their deliveries and collections to identify improved vehicle movements that reduced businesses impact on air quality
  • Support for taxis and PHV drivers to purchase or lease compliant vehicle types

Councillor Dave Ashmore, said: “The plan is a robust response to the imposed ministerial directive and the modelling makes it very clear this can be achieved with a Class B zone in the south west of the city.”

“In the future people will need to plan their journeys a lot more when travelling to cities like Portsmouth. We hope this will result in more people catching the train or bus, and using the Park and Ride or cycling and walking. Air quality is a major issue that together we can tackle, so that we can vastly improve the air we breathe.”

Supporting information

The four classes of charging Clean Air Zone (CAZ) have all been considered and we have found the following for each class.

Class

Vehicles potentially included

Findings

A

Buses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles

This does not make us complaint by 2022.

B

Buses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles, HGVs

This shows compliance in 2022.

C

Buses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles, HGVs, large vans, minibuses, small vans

This shows compliance in 2022.

D

Buses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles, HGVs,  large vans, minibuses, small vans, private cars, motorcycles and mopeds

This shows compliance in 2022.

Portsmouth City Council is just one of a number of local authorities that are looking at the potential of introducing a CAZ. Leeds and Birmingham will be first charging CAZs as London as an Ultra-low emissions zone. Further locations that are likely to introduce CAZs are Greater Manchester, Bath, Sheffield and Bristol.

MIL OSI United Kingdom