Air pollution is a global public health risk, more harmful than passive smoking. Areas of Portsmouth have levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) that are likely to continue to be above legal limits unless strong action is taken quickly. Creating a Clean Air Zone (CAZ) is the government’s preferred approach to addressing air pollution in the shortest possible time for a number of cities across the UK. Portsmouth’s Clean Air Zone must be live before the end of 2021.

Apply for clean air zone funding

What is proposed and why?

The CAZ is being introduced to Portsmouth because the city has ongoing problems with poor air quality. Air pollution is a global health risk and is more harmful than passive smoking. Each year around 100 deaths in Portsmouth can be linked to air pollution, therefore we need to act quickly to reduce air pollution in the shortest possible time.

The charging Clean Air Zone will result in a daily charge being issued to the most polluting vehicles for driving in the zone – these vehicles are referred to as ‘non-compliant’ vehicles.

For the Portsmouth charging CAZ, non-compliant vehicles are Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs), buses and coaches, taxis and private hire vehicles (PHVs) that: 

  • Do not meet Euro 6 emissions standards (so are Euro 5 or older) if they are diesel 
  • Do not meet Euro 4 emissions standards (so are Euro 3 or older) if they are petrol 

If you’re not sure what Euro standard your vehicle is, please check your vehicle log book.

We’re not currently proposing to charge vans, as the government has approved our plans for a charging Class B CAZ. However, due to the uncertainty brought about by coronavirus, the government has indicated they may require the charging of vans to meet air quality objectives. 

The proposed zone, approximately 3km2, will be located to the south west of Portsmouth (see map).

Some funding will be available for affected drivers to retrofit or upgrade to greener, cleaner ones.

Find out more about the Clean Air Fund.

Timeline

  • Oct 2019:  Outline local air quality plan was submitted to the government
  • Mar 2020: Government approval of the outline local air quality plan
  • 16 July to 31 Aug 2020: Clean air zone public consultation
  • Winter 2020: Full clean air zone plan submitted to the government
  • Spring 2021: Government approval for full clean air zone plan
  • Summer 2021: Zone cameras and signage installed
  • Autumn 2021: Zone charging starts
  • Autumn 2022: Target date for compliance of pollution hotspots

Are any vehicles exempt from paying?

Some non-compliant vehicles will not have to pay for driving in the CAZ. These vehicles are exempt from the charge, and there are both national and local exemptions.

You don’t have to pay a charge in any CAZ in the UK if you have:

  • a vehicle that’s ultra low emission
  • a disabled passenger tax class vehicle
  • a disabled tax class vehicle
  • a military vehicle
  • a historic vehicle
  • a vehicle retrofitted with technology accredited by the Clean Vehicle Retrofit Accreditation Scheme (CVRAS)
  • certain types of agricultural vehicles

Read more about national exemptions at the Gov.uk website.

In Portsmouth, there are also some exemptions for some specialist vehicles. You may also be able to apply for a ‘sunset period’. This allows you more time to upgrade or retrofit your non-compliant vehicle before having to pay the CAZ charge. You’ll need to apply for local exemptions and sunset periods.

Read more about exemptions from the Portsmouth CAZ

Installation of CAZ cameras

Between April and September 2021, you may soon notice some new cameras that recognise number plates throughout roads in the CAZ. These are being installed to prepare for the launch of the CAZ later this year. Portsmouth City Council’s contractors will put up these number plate monitoring cameras at 39 locations in the zone.

The cameras will only check vehicle number plates. These are designed to recognise vehicle registration plates only, and are like the ones you may have seen in car parks or London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone. They’re not part of our CCTV security in the city.

We will use existing street furniture wherever we can, such as street lamp columns and traffic signal poles. Where this is not possible, some new poles will also be installed.

The cameras will be installed at a height of four metres and each site will only take around two days to install. We aim to complete the full programme of installation in September. Please see below for a map of exact locations of these cameras.

Map showing the locations of CAZ cameras

Have your say

From 15 July to 31 August 2020, we asked for feedback about specific aspects of the zone design. This included the proposed charges, zone operating times, vehicle exclusions and support packages for those most negatively impacted. We also asked for ideas on how we can encourage more people to travel sustainably.

However, there are certain things that we were unable to change. These included the type of vehicles charged and the size of the zone. 

You can read the CAZ consultation guide here

Next steps

Portsmouth City Council submitted a final plan to the government in December 2020. This was approved on 18th March 2021, meaning the CAZ will launch in November 2021. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a charging Clean Air Zone?

A charging Clean Air Zone (CAZ) is an identified area where the oldest, most polluting vehicles are issued a daily charge if they enter the zone. It works in a similar way to the low emission zone in London.

There are two categories of Clean Air Zones: non-charging and charging. Central government requires us to implement a charging Clean Air Zone in Portsmouth.

Why does Portsmouth need a CAZ?

Portsmouth City Council was identified by central government as one of over 60 local authorities that had air pollution levels in excess of legal limits. As such, we’ve been told to make an improvement as soon as possible.

Our technical work shows that a package of non-charging measures, even with the natural reduction in polluting vehicles over time, will still not be enough to achieve the necessary level of improvement in air quality. Therefore central government requires us to implement a charging Clean Air Zone.

Why was I asked for my views when we are required by government to implement a CAZ?

Your feedback informed specific aspects of the zone design, including the proposed charges, zone operating times, vehicle exclusions and support packages for those most negatively impacted, as well as how we can encourage more people to travel sustainably.

However, there are certain things that we are unable to change. These include the type of vehicles charged and the size of the zone. There was also a restriction on any changes that we implement – these cannot negatively impact the compliance date.

When will the CAZ start in Portsmouth?

The CAZ will ‘go live’ in November 2021, and we’ll confirm the exact date as soon as this is finalised. You’re likely to see cameras and signs being installed on the main roads into the city centre before then.

Will I have to pay a charge?

It depends which vehicle you drive. Only buses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles and heavy goods vehicles that are older than Euro 6 if diesel, and Euro 4 if petrol, will be charged.

Newer, cleaner vehicles and personal cars and vans will not be charged, and there are also some specific vehicle exemptions. But you can still help improve air quality in the city by reducing the number of journeys you make, choosing to travel more actively by walking, cycling or scooting, and switching your engine off when stopped.

If you’re not sure what Euro standard your vehicle is, please check your vehicle log book or contact your vehicle manufacturer directly.

Are there any exemptions?

Some groups of specialist vehicles are already exempt as set out by government. These include (but are not limited to) disabled passenger vehicles registered with a disabled tax class, military vehicles and vehicles retrofitted to Euro 6 standard.

You can find out more about exemptions on the government’s website.

How much will the charge be?

The charge will be £10 a day for non-compliant taxis and Private Hire Vehicles, and £50 a day for HGVs, buses and coaches.

The charges for travelling within the zone will be issued automatically and you will only be charged once per day no matter how many trips into the zone you make.

I saw in the news that you will be charging vans - is this true?

At present we are not proposing to charge vans, as government has approved our plans for a charging Class B CAZ. However, due to the uncertainty brought about by coronavirus, central government has indicated they may require the charging of vans to meet air quality objectives.

If this happens, the information provided in the consultation by van drivers will help us bid for funding to support those affected by the charge.

What are the different classes of Clean Air Zones?

There are four classes of Clean Air Zone:

  • Class A: buses, coaches, taxis and private hire vehicles
  • Class B: buses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles and HGVs
  • Class C: buses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles, HGVs and LGVs
  • Class D: buses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles, HGVs, LGVs and cars

You can find out more about the different classes on the government’s website.

Air pollution has reduced during lockdown so why do we still need a CAZ?

We have seen a temporary reduction in nitrogen dioxide whilst there were fewer vehicles on the road during 2020. However, as traffic levels increase again, so does air pollution.

With such uncertainty about the longer term impacts lockdowns have had on travel behaviour and the economy, we must continue with our plans to introduce a charging CAZ to ensure we achieve legal limits for nitrogen dioxide by the end of 2022.

I won't be able to afford the charges - what can I do?

We have secured funding from government to issue grants or loans to pay towards a replacement or retrofit of the most polluting vehicles.

You can find out more about the funding available on the Clean Air Fund page.

What else is Portsmouth City Council doing to improve air quality?

The charging CAZ is only one small part of the work we are undertaking to tackle air pollution and climate change in the city.

We are providing more Electric Vehicle (EV) charge points, reviewing taxi licensing rules to encourage cleaner taxis and private hire vehicles in the city, using the parking permits fee to encourage low emission vehicles, and discourage multiple car ownership, and we are changing parking capacity and pricing, including expanding the Park and Ride. We have also retrofitted over 100 local buses so they meet cleaner Euro 6 standards.

We are working across the council to improve air quality. In support of addressing the specific challenge of air pollution in Portsmouth, the draft Local Transport Plan focuses on changes we can make within the city to create cleaner, greener safer travel in Portsmouth.

This is supported by the draft Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan that aims to create continuous cycling and walking routes that more people want to use for travelling around the city. You can find out more about these plans in the other sections of this website.

Why are private cars not being charged?

The different vehicles charged in the CAZ are set out in the Government’s Clean Air Zone Framework. This framework sets four classes on Clean Air Zones ranging from A-D, with A being the least stringent and D being most stringent (including all vehicle types).

Our modelling shows that a Class B CAZ is likely to be sufficient in reducing air pollution in the shortest possible time. Therefore central government has confirmed that they will not provide funding for a CAZ D that would charge cars.