The government still require the introduction of a charging Clean Air Zone in Portsmouth by the end of 2021 to address the problem.
Portsmouth City Council is launching the charging Clean Air Zone consultation on 15 July 2020 to seek views on how the zone will operate. The government has issued ministerial directions to a growing number of cities in the UK requiring them to create Clean Air Zones as they believe this will achieve cleaner air in the fastest possible time.
Cllr Dave Ashmore, Cabinet Member for Environment and Climate Change, said: "It is important we do all we can do to improve air quality in Portsmouth, as polluted air impacts everyone's health. Improving cleaner travel options is essential to the future of our city. We must all take action to improve air quality.
"The government-funded Clean Air Zone is not our preferred solution to the air pollution problem. However, we are required to do this so we are making sure we do this in the best possible way by giving everybody the opportunity to have their say on how it will operate and those impacted can tell us their views on how funding support can be shared fairly."
The ministerial direction for Portsmouth states that the council are required to implement a zone that will charge older more polluting HGV's, taxis and public hire vehicles, buses and coaches, to travel in an area to the south west of the city. However, the coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on the economy, and many businesses may not be able to replace their vehicles as quickly as the previous research suggested. In order to achieve legal limits by 2022, the government may impose a Class C Clean Air Zone, meaning that older more polluting vans would also be charged. To ensure the views of van drivers are heard, the council is asking questions about this too.
Cllr Ashmore went on to say: "We have included questions for owners of light goods vehicles in case government changes zone requirements. However, I appreciate this may be devastating for many small businesses recovering from lockdown if they started being charged next year. This is why we are seeking views from drivers of light goods vehicles now. If government makes this change we will have the evidence to support our case for securing as much funding as possible to help people with the most polluting vehicles to change to cleaner types and not be faced with the CAZ charge.
"I would like to encourage as many people with vehicles to complete the survey as this information will inform how we operate the zone and how we help those impacted. This is something government has stated we must do and we want to make sure we operate the zone in the right way for Portsmouth and surrounding area."
The council's draft Local Transport Plan focuses on making the city cleaner, greener and safer for everyone. The Clean Air Zone is just one of the many actions that will take place to create cleaner air. This year the council is also bidding for additional funding to improve active travel in Portsmouth, installing additional electric vehicle charge points on residential streets and improving the connectivity of cycle routes.
The consultation will take a slightly different approach to the previous Clean Air Zone consultation to help keep people safe during the pandemic. To participate, people are being encouraged to take part online, however if this is not possible there will be further details on how to take part via a paper survey or via the telephone. All this information will be available when the survey launches on the 15 July at www.portsmouth.gov.uk/cleanairzone.