First year of Portsmouth's clean air zone sees more than 6,000 fines dished out by city council

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More than 6,000 fines were issued in the first year of Portsmouth's clean air zone for vehicles that breached emissions limits.

New city council data shows that, of the 130m vehicles that entered the city centre zone from November 2021 to November 2022, six per cent were non-compliant and only two per cent of these failed to pay the charge.

Cabinet member for transport Gerald Vernon-Jackson, who has long opposed the ‘imposition’ of the scheme by the government, said he hoped it would eventually be removed.

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The clean air zone was launched last yearThe clean air zone was launched last year
The clean air zone was launched last year

‘Several million has been spent by the government on this and there are far better ways that that amount of money could have been spent,’ he said. ‘We never thought this was a particularly good scheme and had the money been given to us directly we could have used it much more effectively.

‘We have to be able to demonstrate two years of nitrogen dioxide levels being below the limit but after that, hopefully, we can remove it.’

Portsmouth’s clean air zone was the third introduced in the country under a government scheme to improve air quality in areas with higher pollution.

Under it, older, more polluting lorries, buses and taxis are charged daily for travelling through the zone.

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These charges help fund the cost of running the scheme and while fines raised £765,000 in the first year of its operation, this fell short of the £928,000 cost. The remainder is covered by a contingency fund.

Ahead if its introduction, the council was given £3.5m to award to businesses affected by the new charges. Grants were awarded for the retrofitting or replacement of non-compliant vehicles.

Air quality data is taken from a network of more than 200 monitoring stations across the city and submitted to the government for monitoring. However, this has yet to be made public and a council report said it did not expect this to be available until it is published by the government in the autumn.