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Portsmouth City Council has drawn up recommendations to respond to a government instruction to consider charging some vehicles in a clean air zone to improve air quality in the shortest time.

The council is keen to improve air quality but wants to ensure any impact on residents and businesses in the city is proportionate.

Cllr Dave Ashmore, Portsmouth City Council's Cabinet Member for Environment and Climate Change, said: "Improving air quality in the city is an urgent matter, one which has seen the Government discussing imposing a charging Clean Air Zone on Portsmouth like they have in other places. Our analysis has shown that a Class B Clean Air Zone, with additional measures, would achieve the level of compliance needed to ensure the health and wellbeing of people in our city whilst not impacting the economy of our city.

Right from the start I have been concerned about the massive economic impact that a government imposed Class D clean air zone would have had on residents here. Many people just can't afford to replace their old car. Although the Government could still impose a class D zone on our city, we need to continue with the additional measures to improve our air quality, such as the extra trees being planted, improvements for cycling and the anti-engine idling campaign."

The government could enforce a class D clean air zone where every vehicle is charged but the council is proposing a class B zone that would mean a daily charge for older, more polluting buses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles, and heavy good vehicles. Petrol vehicles that are Euro 4 or newer, and diesel vehicles that are Euro 6 or newer would not be charged.

The council's modelling shows a class B zone, with a package of other non-charging measures is likely to meet the required air quality standards in the city by the government deadline of during 2022.

Extra non-charging measures are also currently being developed which the council is confident would mean the city's air quality would improve even sooner. Details of these will be announced once they are finalised.

The plans will be considered by the council's Cabinet at a meeting on 9 September, where a decision will be made if they should be submitted to government as part of Portsmouth's Air Quality Local Plan for submission to Government’s Joint Air Quality Unit by 31 October 2019. From this plan Government will then confirm the approach Portsmouth will be required to take and the level of Clean Air Zone we must implement.