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.
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.
- 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
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.
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.
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.
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.