EFFORTS to improve Portsmouth’s polluted air have taken a leap forward after the government announced it would fund a key transport scheme.
Portsmouth City Council has been named as one of 10 local authorities being given cash as part of a reinvigorated battle for cleaner air.
The boost will fund the city’s plan to slash emissions from buses by retrofitting 400 of them with new technology to cut down harmful fumes.
The move comes after the council submitted a feasibility study of its plan to Defra.
Environment minister Dr Thérèse Coffey announced the extra support, which will be funded as part of the government’s £3.5bn national air quality plan.
Westminster has not said exactly how much money will be going to Portsmouth nor has it given an exact time frame.
However, the news has been trumpeted by city leaders, who are determined to improve the city’s air quality after it was highlighted by the World Health Organisation as being among the worst in the country.
Councillor Dave Ashmore, the city’s environment boss, said he was ‘very pleased’ by the news and was ‘looking forward to’ how much cash the city would be given.
He added buses were a great solution to drive down pollution but that some of the city’s older buses were not ‘as environmentally friendly as the could be’.
Portsmouth has been gathering data on key air pollution ‘hot spots’ – like Eastern Road or Anglesea Road – since March to develop its plan.
As well as the proposal to retrofit buses with new tech, the council will also be working alongside Defra and the Department of Transport over the next year to drive down emissions city-wide.
Dr Coffey said she would continue to do her part in Westminster to support the city and improve air quality.
‘But every one of us as individuals also has an important role to play in cleaning up our air,’ she said. ‘By taking simple steps, like leaving the car at home for the school run, riding a bike, walking, or taking the bus to work, we can make huge strides in our journey to clean up our air.’
Cllr Ashmore added: ‘While Portsmouth isn’t one of the worst offenders for air quality, it isn’t something we can take for granted. We take the air quality in the city very seriously and work is under way to try and make improvements and ensure the city is the best environment possible for people to live, work and visit.’