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Drivers of some of the most polluting vehicle types, who will be charged to travel through Portsmouth’s Clean Air Zone (CAZ), are set to benefit from government funding towards improvements which will make their vehicles cleaner and greener.

Portsmouth City Council was issued with a ministerial directive in March 2020 to introduce a Class B charging Clean Air Zone in the south west of the city as soon as possible, and at least in time to bring forward compliance with legal limits for air pollution to 2022.

The most polluting vehicles that travel within the boundary of the Clean Air Zone will be charged. In the Portsmouth CAZ, these are buses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles and heavy goods vehicles that don’t meet Euro 6 emissions standards (if diesel) or Euro 4 emissions standards (if petrol).

Newer, cleaner vehicles and personal cars and vans will not be charged, and there are also some specific vehicle exemptions. But drivers of these vehicles can still help improve air quality in the city by reducing the number of journeys they make, choosing to travel more actively by walking, cycling or scooting, and switching their engines off when stopped. In the coming months, people will be able to check whether they will be charged within the zone when a vehicle checker will be made available. In the meantime, people can check online to find out more about the types of vehicles that will be charged: www.portsmouth.gov.uk/cleanairzone

Owners of vehicles that will need to pay when travelling within the zone can apply for funding from the £3.2M Clean Air Fund. The government funding will help drivers to upgrade or retrofit their vehicles, making them cleaner and greener.

The council has been awarded a total of £3.4M in funding for the CAZ. In addition to the Clean Air Fund, this will also pay for registration recognition cameras, signage and everything else that is needed to create the zone. The funding includes £0.5M to install rapid Electric Vehicle (EV) charging points in the city. At first, these will be available for drivers of electric taxis and private hire vehicles to help them operate more efficiently, and will continue to make Portsmouth a more attractive city for electric vehicle ownership.

Portsmouth has ongoing problems with air pollution and areas of Portsmouth have levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) that are above legal limits. Unless action is taken this will continue. The Clean Air Zone is a part of the council’s commitment towards improving air quality. Other activities include increasing the accessibility of electric vehicle charging points in residential areas, improving routes for people walking and cycling, and trialling new approaches, including rental e-scooters and bike storage.

Pam Turton, Portsmouth City Council’s Assistant Director for Transport, said “Air pollution is the greatest environmental threat to public health, so it is important we all take action. Like many cities across the UK, the council is required by the government to address air pollution in the shortest possible time by introducing the CAZ.”

“Our Clean Air Zone will go live in November 2021. Alongside this we are delivering £100M of improvements for bus, walking and cycling journeys, as well as trialling rental e-scooters, safe and secure cycle storage in residential areas and encouraging cleaner areas around schools, all to help make the air we breathe cleaner.”

To apply for support from the Clean Air Fund and for more information about the Clean Air Zone and other air quality measures in Portsmouth, visit www.portsmouth.gov.uk/cleanairzone.