Portsmouth drivers to be asked what they think of plan that could see them charged £8 a day to drive in city

CITY motorists who could be hit with charges of up to £8 a day are being asked for their views in case a clean air zone is imposed in Portsmouth.

As previously reported the government could enforce a chargeable driving zone on Portsea Island if the council fails to prove by October that it can reduce air pollution.

Air pollution

Air pollution

While a report is being prepared for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) the council is looking to hear from drivers who are most likely to be affected.

These include motorists with petrol vehicles registered prior to 2006 and diesel cars from before 2015 as these would not be compliant with the emission standards.

The council's environment and climate change boss, Councillor Dave Ashmore, said: 'We will be putting forward a strategy to the government that improves our air quality and people's wellbeing through other non-charging activities.

'However, if a clean air zone is imposed on Portsmouth, because the government thinks this will be the best way to see improvements in air quality, this could come into operation as soon as 2021.

'So I'd urge everyone with non-compliant vehicles to take part in this initial survey so we can understand the impact that the different levels of charging could have on them.'

The survey will inform the strategy that will be put to the government later this year. If a charging clean air zone is imposed the council will launch a detailed consultation in the autumn.

Cllr Lynne Stagg, cabinet member for transportation, added: 'Vehicles are the highest contributor to poor air quality in the city and just by turning off your vehicle when stationary for more than a minute can make a difference, or change the way you travel, take the bus, walk or cycle.

'Every small change we each make will cumulatively make a difference.'

Council leader Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson stated before that a zone could be based on existing ones around the UK that cost up to £8-a-day for cars, taxis and large goods vehicles (LGVs). However, the survey warns of a worst-case-scenario where charges could reach £20.

It comes after the latest readings of dangerous nitrous dioxide (NO2) in the city showed that 16 areas in Portsmouth were above the ‘safe’ level last year – up from four in 2017.

But Portsmouth Green Party member and clean air campaigner Tim Sheerman-Chase believed that even imposing a clean air zone might not be enough. 'I am glad that action is being taken and this is becoming more of a priority for the council,' he said.

'But clean air zones like the one that could be implemented in Portsmouth usually achieve a small percentage drop in pollution and we need to see at least 10 per cent.

'We need to look at ways of improving public transport and cycling and walking provision too. If the zone comes in it is likely the poorest people in the city will be hit the most as their vehicles will be older and public transport might be too expensive for them.'

The clean air zone survey is open online until 5pm on Thursday, July 4. Local business will also be contacted to gain their views.