A chargeable clean air zone will be put in place in Portsmouth by next year

'NON-COMPLIANT' vehicles will be charged to drive in some areas of the city by the end of next year in a bid to improve air quality.

Buses, coaches, HGVs, taxis and private hire vehicles of certain ages will be charged to drive in parts of Portsmouth
Buses, coaches, HGVs, taxis and private hire vehicles of certain ages will be charged to drive in parts of Portsmouth

The government has confirmed Portsmouth City Council must implement a class B clean air zone by November 2021, which will impact coaches, buses, heavy goods vehicles (HGVs), taxis and private hire vehicles of certain standards.

As a result these vehicles will have to pay to enter a small area of the south west of the city, in a move the department for environment, food and rural affairs (Defra) believes will drop nitrous dioxide pollution (NO2) to a 'safe' level.

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Portsmouth City Council leader, Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, said: 'A clean air zone is not our preferred approach to addressing air pollution in Portsmouth, especially during these unprecedented times, but we have to comply with the ministerial directive or face legal action from government.'

The council has been allocated more than £6.2m to improve air quality in Portsmouth, including the cost of implementing a zone. Of this £1.6m will be used to help people make their vehicles compliant that would otherwise be charged.

Compliant vehicles are petrol vehicles that are Euro 4 or newer, and diesel vehicles that are Euro 6 or newer. It is thought cameras will be installed around the clean air zone to check that vehicles are compliant or have paid.

However, concerns were raised that more was needed to make air quality safe. Green campaigner Tim Sheerman-Chase said: 'My usual concern is that the council is being optimistic about what will achieve compliance and that Defra isn't being critical enough.

'Defra will only fund the council for what they think will meet the minimum safe standards. It might need more than this though.

'We will have to wait and see but it is definitely a step in the right direction.'

Under EU guidelines the safe limit of NO2 is 40 micrograms of NO2 per cubic metre of air.

Previously the council said the clean air zone charge could be up to £20 a day.

The council will now carry out further technical modelling to inform the full business case that is due this November for approval by government.