Some drivers and operators of specific vehicles may not need to pay to drive in the Portsmouth Clean Air Zone (CAZ). These are known as exemptions, and there are both national and local exemptions.

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

In Portsmouth, we’re offering additional exemptions to some vehicles, as well as time-limited ‘sunset periods’. If you operate a non-compliant vehicle that would normally be charged to drive in the CAZ, applying for an exemption will allow you to avoid a charge.

You’ll need to apply for an exemption or sunset period through an online form, which will be available later this year. You’ll also need to supply evidence to prove you’re eligible.

Which vehicles are exempt for life?

Emergency Service Vehicles

All vehicles that have an Emergency Service Vehicle tax class are exempt from paying a charge to use the Portsmouth CAZ. This includes:

  • Ambulances
  • Fire Engines
  • Fire Service vehicles
  • Police vehicles
  • Mine Rescue vehicles
  • Lifeboat Haulage vehicles
  • Lighthouse Authority vehicles

If your emergency service vehicle is not listed, but you think it may be eligible for this exemption, please contact us.

Volunteer vehicles that support emergency services are also exempt. You’ll need to supply a V5 document, as well as a request from the relevant emergency service on headed paper as your evidence.

Specialist Heavy Vehicles

Vehicles in the following tax classes are exempt from paying a charge to use the Portsmouth CAZ:

  • Special Vehicles
  • Recovery Vehicles
  • Special Concessionary Vehicles
  • General Haulage Vehicles

If your Specialist Heavy Vehicle is not listed, but you think it may be eligible for this exemption, please contact us.

Which vehicles are exempt for a limited time?

Wheelchair Accessible Taxis

Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles (WAVs) that are licensed as either a private hire vehicle or Hackney Carriage are exempt from paying a charge to use the Portsmouth CAZ for the first six months after the CAZ launches. You’ll also need to provide proof of intent to upgrade your vehicle, such as an application to a Clean Air Fund grant.

Non-commercial Vintage Buses

Vintage buses that are not used for commercial purposes are exempt from paying a charge to use the Portsmouth CAZ for up to ten days per year. These don’t have to be consecutive.

The bus will need to have been first registered 20-39 years ago.

Horse transporters classed as heavy goods vehicles

HGV sized horse transporters are exempt from paying a charge to use the Portsmouth CAZ for up to ten days per year. These don’t have to be consecutive. This will allow people on the Isle of Wight to travel to the specialist horse hospital on the mainland without having to pay a charge.

Horse transporters that are classified as vans will not need to pay the CAZ charge, and nor will compliant vehicles.

School and Community Transport

Vehicles that provide community and school transport are exempt from paying to drive through the Portsmouth CAZ for two years from launch. This includes:

  • Minibuses registered as taxis
  • Double-decker buses that provide school transport.

For this exemption, school transport means any vehicle that is used in transporting children to and from school, and does not include transport used for school trips or off-site activities.

If you provide a regular school or community transport service, but don’t fall into one of these categories, please contact us to discuss further.

Other exemptions

Some other exemptions have been agreed by Portsmouth City Council.

Stop-gap exemption

If you’ll be replacing your vehicle to be compliant with the new Clean Air Zone, but for reasons out of your control you cannot get a vehicle that is compliant until after the zone launches, you may be able to apply for a temporary exemption.

For example, if supply chain issues due to Brexit or Coronavirus affect the delivery of your replacement vehicle, you may be able to apply for this exemption.

These exemptions will be judged on a case by case basis. Our officers will need to be satisfied that your business has taken all steps to upgrade non-compliant vehicles before the Clean Air Zone launches. You shouldn’t assume you’ll be entitled to this exemption.

Emergency rail replacement buses and coaches

Any buses or coaches that are required at short notice to provide rail replacement services will be given an exemption. Additionally bus or coach services heading into the zone that have broken down and need to be replaced will also be given an exemption.

This is only for unplanned events, such as trains or coaches that are heading into the zone breaking down. Planned replacement services will still be subject to the charge if they are not compliant vehicles.

How will the Clean Air Zone cameras know that I don’t have to pay?

Once your vehicle has been validated by Portsmouth City Council, its details will be added to a whitelist. The cameras will automatically compare the registration number against this whitelist, and dismiss any images of vehicles that are exempt from paying.

Please note that some locally exempt vehicles may not appear on the Government’s vehicle checker, and could show up as needing to pay a charge in the Portsmouth CAZ even if your vehicle has been granted a local exemption. Your vehicle will still be exempt if you’ve successfully applied for an exemption.