Backlash over plans to remove two of Portsmouth's busiest roads from clean air zone

ENVIRONMENTAL campaigners have hit out at plans to remove two of Portsmouth's busiest roads from a clean air zone, claiming proposals need to be more ‘ambitious’.

Friday, 2nd October 2020, 5:09 pm
Updated Friday, 2nd October 2020, 5:36 pm
A clean air zone will be implemented to reduce NO2 levels in Portsmouth.

Portsmouth council is set to consider a alterations to the boundary of a future clean air zone for the south west of the city.

This includes removing Kingston Crescent and Fratton Road, the Fratton roundabout and Holbrook Road roundabout.

Once the zone is implemented non-compliant taxis, buses, coaches, heavy goods vehicles - and potentially vans - will have to pay £10 a day to enter.

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The area of Portsmouth that was previously proposed as a chargeable clean air zone. Picture: Portsmouth City Council

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Some of Portsmouth’s busiest roads could be removed from clean air zone

The alterations have been suggested following a consultation with the public as well as taxi and bus drivers where more than 2,000 people responded.

However, plans have come under fire as just 1.5 per cent of the survey's respondents asked for those roads to be excluded, while 39 per cent said the size of the zone should be increased.

Nick Sebley, from the Portsmouth Climate Alliance, said: 'If we look at the consultation details: 31 respondents (1.5 per cent) wanted Fratton / London Road excluded from the clean air zone, whilst 847 (39 per cent) wanted it included and the overall size of the clean air zone increased.

'Portsmouth City Council went with the 1.5 per cent. That’s not a consultation: that’s a stitch-up.

'This isn’t the fault of taxi drivers and businesses: it is important to listen to them but the council is supposed to balance out their views with the health impacts on the residents who live, shop and catch the bus in these polluted areas.'

Dr Jonathan Lake, who works as a GP in Portsmouth, added: ‘We know being able to breathe clean air is vital for the health of Portsmouth residents and their children.

'Implementing an effective clear air zone that targets the most polluted areas in the city is an important part of our council’s public health responsibility, and an opportunity to prevent conditions such as asthma and heart disease.’

Tim Sheerman-Chase, from Let Pompey Breathe, agreed. 'We should be more ambitions, particularly given the climate emergency, which is not even mentioned in the plans,' he said.

However, the city council's environment boss, explained that a smaller zone was needed to secure funding from government.

Councillor Dave Ashmore said: 'We have two areas in the city where air pollution is projected to exceed required levels and the government fund is for a zone that reduces pollution levels across the city, with a specific focus on bringing these two locations within legal limits.

'Therefore, although the survey shows a desire for charging drivers of older polluting vehicles in a larger area we will not receive the funding for this because the modelling shows that a smaller area is likely to be more effective in reducing NO2 emissions at the two identified exceedance locations.'

The zone is due to be introduced in 2021.

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