Council approves plans for smaller clean air zone in Portsmouth
PLANS to turn the city centre into a chargeable clean air zone will now be submitted - despite concerns it won't 'do the job.'
In a bid to meet a government directive on air quality Portsmouth City Council has proposed charging commercial vehicles such as buses, taxis and lorries of a certain age to drive within a small area in the south west of the city.
The zone, which is smaller than a previous design for the whole of Portsea Island, was approved for the next stage during a cabinet meeting yesterday.
Environment boss, Councillor Dave Ashmore, said: 'Given the requirements by government, I am pleased cabinet approved the approach as it minimises the potential negative impact on our city of a stricter zone.'
However, fears were raised that shrinking the size of the zone would not see enough of a reduction in air pollution.
Speaking at the cabinet meeting Rod Bailey, chairman of the Milton Neighbourhood Planning Forum, said: 'What I am bothered about and why I am making this deputation is this is a public health issue and I believe that a small area clean air zone doesn't quite do the job.
'The thing is that many people will avoid the clean air zone.'
Cllr Judith Smyth agreed. 'We in the Labour Party fully support the zone but we think it's too small and is therefore not going to work,' she said.
'There will be displacement in the surrounding areas. It's easy to drive around it. I know when we drive down the M275 we face three choices, we can often make a choice that avoids going through the zone.'
But council leader Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, explained that funding was only available for the minimum zone required to meet the air quality standards. He said: 'This has got to be done in a way government demands that it is done.
'We asked the officers if the government would fund a clean air zone for the whole island and the answer was no. It would cost many millions.'
The plan will now be reviewed by government and a 12-week consultation will take place next year.
It is thought the zone will be implemented in 2021.