The government has this week told Portsmouth City Council that a Class B charging Clean Air Zone (CAZ) must begin by the end of 2021 at the latest, against the wishes of the local authority who wanted to see the process delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
A Class B CAZ will charge older, polluting buses, coaches, taxis, and heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) entering the city each day, but would not charge private cars, as the council said this would have a negative effect on residents and businesses.
Last year, Cllr Dave Ashmore, cabinet member for Environment & Climate Change, blasted the government for ‘imposing’ the CAZ on the city adding that they have ignored suggestions by the council to improve air quality.
So far, the council has been allocated over £6.2m in funding to implement measures to improve air quality in Portsmouth and of this, £1.6m is to help people make their vehicles compliant that would otherwise be charged.
Portsmouth’s CAZ was initially going to cover all the Portsea Island area. However, they have now decided to make the zone’s boundary smaller and exclude Portsmouth International Port, which is owned by the council.
Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, leader of Portsmouth City Council said: ‘A Clean Air Zone is not our preferred approach to addressing air pollution in Portsmouth, especially during these unprecedented times, but we have to comply with the ministerial directive or face legal action from government.
‘Council Officers will work with government to review how Covid-19 will impact the delivery timescales to make sure we provide an opportunity for people to have their say on how the zone will operate. However, at this time it is important I focus on how we get through Covid-19 together. Making sure we provide critical services and support the vulnerable in our city.’