Plans to launch the Clean Air Zone in 2021 to meet the legal deadline for improving air quality in the city continue, following delays by government in making a decision about the zone.
Portsmouth City Council submitted their outline plan on 31 October following the government's ministerial direction in 2018, which required the development of a plan setting out how levels of air pollution could be brought within legal limits in the shortest possible time. The plan proposes a Clean Air Zone that would see HGV's, buses and coaches, taxis and public hire vehicles charged to travel in the area to the south west of the city.
The modelling shows that this approach is likely to achieve compliance with legal limits for air pollution in the shortest possible time. Since submission of the plan there have been ongoing conversations between the council and the government's Joint Air Quality Unit (JAQU) and further information provided but there are now additional delays in the decision about the zone being made.
Cllr Ashmore, Cabinet Member for Environment and Climate Change, said "In response to the ministerial direction we provided all the information required by government by their deadline and although there was a delay due to the election we expected a decision this month. However, after working with us over the past three months government has just requested additional modelling data that will delay the public consultation until May.
"Even though government continues to delay in making a decision, they are still expecting us to start operating the zone by the end of 2021 so that we meet air quality compliance targets. We have said all the way along that there are better ways of reducing air pollution and the money could be better invested in long term solutions that will improve air quality even more than just being compliant."
The council recognises that any alterations to the submission date will reduce the implementation time and will not alter the requirement by government for the city to be compliant by 2022.