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Drivers and operators of selected types of vehicles are being urged to make sure they’ve applied for an exemption from the government-mandated Portsmouth Clean Air Zone (CAZ) when it launches later this month to avoid being charged unnecessarily.

Earlier this year, Portsmouth City Council agreed to make some specialist vehicles exempt from the clean air zone charge under some circumstances. Private cars, vans and motorbikes will not be charged to drive in the zone when it launches on November 29, but drivers and operators of non-compliant buses, coaches, heavy goods vehicles (HGVs), taxi and private hire vehicles will be.

Cllr Dave Ashmore, Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Environment said: “I urge drivers that are unsure whether they will be charged to check their vehicle. Also, anyone with a specialist vehicle should check whether this applies to them and if it does, apply online for an exemption to avoid unnecessary charges.”

Drivers or business owners can check whether they’ll be charged to drive in the zone by using the vehicle checker on the government website

Drivers of specialist vehicles can also check online for whether they are eligible to apply for exemptions or sunset periods. See below a quick overview of exemptions:

  • All emergency service vehicles– exempt for life
  • Specialist Heavy Vehicles, including recovery vehicles – exempt for life
  • Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles (WAVs) hackney carriages and private hire vehicles – exempt for first six months while drivers seek funding from the council to upgrade vehicles
  • School and community transport – exempt for two years
  • Emergency rail or bus replacement buses and coaches– exempt if required at short notice, such as when a train breaks down
  • Horse transporters classified as HGVs –  exempt for up to 10 trips a year to give horse owners on the Isle of Wight access to specialist equine healthcare facilities located on the mainland
  • Non-commercial vintage buses – exempt for up to 10 trips a year
  • Owners of non-compliant vehicles who are working to upgrade their vehicles before the launch of the CAZ but have been unable to do so due to issues outside of their control (such as supply chain issues) could also be eligible to apply for a short-term exemption to give while they upgrade.

An application for an exemption or ‘sunset period’ can be made at any time using the online form on the exemptions webpage. Drivers and operators of vehicles eligible for a local exemption will need to apply for their vehicles and show evidence, such as vehicle ownership documents and photographs of the vehicle being applied for.

Applications must be submitted by Monday 15 November 2021 to ensure they are processed ahead of the CAZ launch.  Drivers and businesses that submit their application after this date may need to pay the daily charge until the exemption has been granted.

Cllr Dave Ashmore, went on to say: “We agreed specialist vehicle exemptions to ensure that essential travel in Portsmouth is not negatively impacted and to allow people more time to make modifications to their vehicles.  We continue to work closely with impacted drivers and businesses across the region to help them access funding when they are eligible. If you know that your vehicle will be charged and you haven’t contacted the council yet about funding support, our team is waiting to hear from you and advise on the support available.”

The council has a dedicated team ready to help affected drivers and business owners with applications, as well as to answer any queries they may have. Please call the team for support with applications at 023 9283 4593, or email CAZExemptions@portsmouthcc.gov.uk.