A PROPOSED £100-a-day chargeable Clean Air Zone (CAZ) in Southampton has been slammed by the leader of the Isle of Wight Council, who said it would hit the Isle of Wight's economy and could threaten jobs.

Cllr Dave Stewart has today (Friday) spoken out against Southampton City Council's plans to charge commercial vehicles which do not meet emissions standards entering parts of the city.

He said there had been no impact assessment for the Isle of Wight and it was "unacceptable" the Isle of Wight Council continued to have no say over how it would work, even though it would be "detrimental to our economy."

The city council continues to stand by the controversial charge, which it, and environmental campaigners, say will improve the quality of life for residents in the city.

Calling for an exemption for vehicles heading to or from the Isle of Wight, Cllr Stewart said: "The Isle of Wight 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.

"Figures show more than 100 HGV vehicles per day use the Southampton/East Cowes Red Funnel route, which will be in the CAZ.

"Coach operators based on and off the Island bring more than 1,000 coach journeys via Southampton during the summer months, in addition to the regular year-round traffic that gives much needed revenue to our tourism sector out of season.

"The fact there could be a possible charge of £100-a-day by 2019 for vehicles that do not meet emissions standards without consideration for the Island and its unique position is unacceptable and will harm our tourism and manufacturing industries and potentially cost jobs.

"For example, coach operators’ business models will be seriously impacted by a charge of £100 and the Island runs the risk they will not visit.

"We also 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 and the Government want it in place six years earlier.

"Everyone wants to have cleaner air and this council is supportive and committed to helping the environment.

"However, the impact on the Island and the potential for jobs to be threatened by a CAZ over the Solent has not being fully recognised and are very real.

"The council wants traffic identified as entering the CAZ, and which is making an onward journey to and from the Isle of Wight, made exempt from the charging regime for a substantial period so operators and owners can update their fleets and eventually comply with the CAZ.

"This position has been submitted as part of Southampton City Council’s consultation and it will be communicated to ministers too.

"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.

"The Isle of Wight’s unique needs must be recognised and the council will be making all necessary representations to ensure our voice is heard and that mitigation or exemptions are put in place to protect the Island’s economy and jobs, if the CAZ is put into action."

Southampton City Council leader, Chris Hammond, says the charge from commercial vehicles that are not Euro-6 compliant — like London’s congestion zone — is needed.

Experts warn that more than 100 deaths a year in Southampton are attributed to long-term exposure to air pollution.

Cllr Hammond said: “If measures come forward that can achieve the same outcome (as a charging zone), then we would look into them.

“However, we have been told by the government that we must use a method that reaches the result in the quickest possible way – which this does. It is the right thing to do.”

Light goods vehicles (LGVs) — such as vans — and cars will be exempt from the charges.

What are Clean Air Zones (CAZ)?

Clean Air Zones (CAZ) are areas where targeted action is taken to improve air quality.

They are being introduced nationally to reduce levels of nitrogen dioxide. Southampton City Council and New Forest District Council have been asked by government to assess the need for a CAZ in the city.

A study suggests a charging scheme is needed in Southampton for the most polluting buses, coaches, taxis and heavy goods vehicles. Supporting measures are also proposed to protect the most vulnerable business and encourage uptake of cleaner vehicles.

Why Southampton?

Southampton is one of five cities in the UK under pressure from Westminster to improve its air quality by 2020 – or face a massive EU fine.

The city’s nitrogen dioxide level currently sits at 42 micrograms.

This is two micrograms above the legal limit.

Health experts says more than 100 deaths a year in the city are attributed to long-term exposure to air pollution.

Who will it affect?

Southampton City Council leader, Chris Hammond, has said the charge will be similar to London’s congestion zone, with non-Euro 6 commercial vehicles being charged.

Light goods vehicles (LGVs) – such as vans – and cars will be exempt from the charges.

How will it be policed?

The scheme would be enforced using a network of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras to identify vehicles that do not meet minimum emission standards, with penalties issued to drivers who fail to pay within 24 hours.