Plans to clean up air quality in Portsmouth have been given the green light by the city council’s leading Cabinet members, but the move has prompted concern from the Isle of Wight’s MP.
The Government has told Portsmouth that it needs to act and could move to impose measures on the city if it fails to do so. Westminster is proposing a “Class D” clean air zone – where all vehicles are charged.
At a meeting on Monday, the council’s cabinet members were told that buses, coaches and HGVs make a significant contribution to emissions, particularly on the A2047 through Hilsea.
Keen to minimise the impact on residents, Portsmouth City Council is instead planning to charge older commercial vehicles £20 per day. Buses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles, and heavy good vehicles entering Portsea Island would be affected, but less polluting petrol vehicles and private motorists would be exempt.
The Isle of Wight’s MP has asked the authority to consider exempting Isle of Wight-bound vehicles, over fears they will not have time to modernise before the Clean Air Zone is imposed. In a letter to Portsmouth City Council’s leader Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Bob Seely wrote:
“I am concerned that the introduction of a Class B Clean Air Zone would have a short to medium-term adverse impact on vehicles travelling to the Isle of Wight.”
Mr Seely says he is concerned for the Island’s smaller haulage firms, and coach companies visiting the Island.
“I am very happy to work with Portsmouth City Council to convince Government of the need to take a flexible approach that has regard for the particular circumstances relating to Portsmouth’s role as a gateway to and from the Island, whilst also securing much-needed improvements to air quality in the local area.”
Alongside the charges, Portsmouth City Council plans to introduce traffic management measures on the A2047 (London Road), junction improvements on A3, and to use of cleaner buses.
Its Air Quality Local Plan will be submitted to the Government’s Joint Air Quality Unit by 31 October. The Government will then confirm the approach Portsmouth will be required to take and could decide to impose stricter measures on traffic in the city.