IWC: Southampton’s clean air plan ‘detrimental’ for Island economy

Southampton City Council’s (SCC) plan to introduce a Clean Air Zone (CAZ) could affect jobs and the Island economy. 

The government has asked that local authorities act swiftly to bring in CAZs, they have given a 2025 deadline. At the moment, SCC are proposing to bring in controls by 2021.

If SCC do not extend the timetable for compliance the Isle of Wight Council say there could be severe consequences for the Island’s economy.

The scale of fines for non-compliance could amount to a charge of £100 pounds per day for non-compliant vehicles such as buses, coaches and HGVs.

Taxis and private hire cars who do not meet Euro 4 and Euro 6 (diesel) levels could be fined 12.5p per day.

Southampton stock image

The leader of Isle of Wight Council, Councillor Dave Stewart, claims the proposed CAZ will be “detrimental” to our economy.

Cllr Stewart said: “The IW Council is objecting to the proposed zone as there has been no impact assessment for the Island and we continue to have no say over how it will work, even though it will be detrimental to our economy.

“Island residents and businesses are reliant on the transportation of goods and undertaking of services by bus, coach, private hire vehicles and particularly heavy goods vehicles through Southampton – many of which are diesel powered.

“Coach operators based on and off the Island bring more than 1000 coach journeys via Southampton during the summer months – that gives much needed revenue to our tourism sector out of season.

“There could be a possible charge of £100-a-day by 2019 for vehicles that do not meet emissions standards.”

The leader claims the CAZ “will harm our tourism and manufacturing industries and potentially cost jobs”.

Coach operators’ business models will be seriously impacted by a charge of £100 – this could seriously affect them from visiting the Island.

The council do not understand why other European cities have until 2025 to achieve a reduction in nitrogen dioxide (NO2) as part of the EU Ambient Air Quality Directive, but Southampton City Council want it in place six years earlier.

The council wants traffic identified as entering the CAZ and making an onward journey to and from the Isle of Wight made exempt from the charging regime for a substantial period.

This is so operators and owners can update their fleets and eventually comply with the CAZ.

The leader finished: “As leader of this council, I cannot stand by and see other authorities and agencies make decisions that are detrimental to this Island’s residents and businesses. It is simply unfair.”

Southampton City Council have been contacted for comment.