Clean air zone plans across The Solent that could spell economic woes for the Island may have been diffused – thanks to technological and mutually beneficial factors, sources have told the IW Observer.
Southampton’s Clean Air Zone (CAZ) plan had been touted by the Isle of Wight Council Cabinet secretary Chris Whitehouse as a “cramponed boot on the throat of our economy”.
But after a meeting between the leader of Southampton City Council (SCC) and the IW Council’s leader on Tuesday (October 16), it seems the air is beginning to clear between the two parties.
The fear is that a portion of Island-bound lorry and coach traffic does not meet EU clean air standards and could be fined £100 for travelling here via Southampton.
Some 20 per cent of Red Funnel’s current vehicle traffic already doesn’t meet the CAZ standards that will likely be imposed.
However SCC leader Councillor Chris Hammond has agreed to take into consideration the use of technology to identify Island-bound traffic so that it can pass through without penalty.
IW Council leader, Councillor Dave Stewart said after the meeting: “If they do impose a £100 a lorry penalty that would have a massive impact on our economy. But there might be a way to mitigate, with ANPR cameras and other factors like that. Chris understood that and agreed to take that on board during the consultation process.”
Cllr Stewart also revealed that from the talks with SCC and Red Funnel CEO Fran Collins, who was also present, the makings of a mutually beneficial tourism partnership between the two areas was blossoming.
He added: “Southampton are in the early days of developing their tourism offer, and we are saying let’s mutually support each other.
“We have people who want to go to the Mayflower Theatre, the cruise ships, West Quay shopping and their other attractive places, and I’m sure they have people who like to come to our nice, sandy beaches and other Island attractions.
“They do not have too many beaches in Southampton and they are often surprised just how good ours are.”
It was agreed that IW Council officers would spend some time engaging with SCC officers to further a mutually beneficial tourism plan between the two places in the future.