Fears raised for Isle of Wight residents if hauliers are hit by clean air zone
AN ISLE of Wight politician has called for a 'co-ordinated approach' with the city to ensure islanders aren't hit by a potential congestion zone charge in Portsmouth.
MP Bob Seely raised fears that a clean air zone in the city would lead to increased costs for residents as hauliers could be charged up to £20 a day to drive in Portsmouth, and therefore raise prices of goods and services.
He also had concerns for small boating and travel firms based on the island that would struggle to meet compliance levels.
Mr Seely said: 'I totally agree we need a greener environment but we also need to support these small companies.
'If the zone is going to put up costs for hauliers here that will put up the costs on the island.
At a cabinet meeting on Monday Portsmouth councillors agreed to press ahead with plans for a class B clean air zone, which would apply to coaches, buses, taxis and heavy goods vehicles.
However, the final decision is still be made by government based on air quality targets that need to be met.
'I respect the need to make sure Portsmouth air is better quality,' Mr Seely said.
'I am going to talk to the council about this about what we are going to do. Also going to approach Defra (the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs). This needs to be a co-ordinated approach.'
Portsmouth council leader Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson agreed. He said: 'I think he's right but this is a very badly thought through government scheme that is incredibly inflexible so we can't do anything about it on our own. The government is doing absolutely nothing to help.
'There would be much better ways of doing things but they are not prepared to listen.
'I am happy to work with him if he is able to get any level of good sense from the government.'
A report is currently being prepared for Defra.