Air pollution: Portsmouth city council calls for help

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image captionThe authority also wants to look into pollution caused by shipping in the city's port and naval base

Wide-ranging plans to tackle air pollution have been put forward after nitrogen dioxide (NO2) readings have soared in Portsmouth.

The city's council leader has written to the environment secretary asking for support to fund alternative initiatives to reduce air pollution.

The council estimates that almost half the air pollution in Portsmouth is caused by cars, HGVs and buses.

Ideas include free bus passes for residents and a new trolley bus.

Gerald Vernon-Jackson said the city's air pollution had "significantly increased".

'Radical plan'

In the letter, Mr Vernon-Jackson said the city needed a "much wider and more radical plan to reduce air pollution".

The suggestions also include a car scrappage scheme, investment in cycling and converting all taxis operating in the city to electric vehicles.

The authority said it also wants to look into pollution caused by shipping in the city's port and naval base in more detail.

Mr Vernon-Jackson's letter also asked for housing targets in the city to be scrapped, allowing the council to set their own, "so we do not make the air pollution situation any worse".

By October, Portsmouth City Council will have to prove to the government that it is able to improve air quality to the same effect as a clean air zone, as part of two ministerial directives.

If it is unable to do so, a mandatory clean air zone - that could see drivers in the city charged a fee - will be put in place.

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