Southampton Clean Air Zone Guide
Clean Air Zones (CAZ) are a part of the 2017 Air Quality Plan to curb roadside nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions which are linked with public health issues.
Southampton opts for non-charging policies, mainly aimed at private hire and public transport vehicles, instead of a fee-charging CAZ.
These have been in place since 2019 serving as the city’s NO2 pollution reducing efforts.
Although these measures mean that you don’t pay, if you drive a petrol or diesel vehicle in Southampton, you’re still polluting.
In this guide we’ll help Southampton drivers understand the city’s clean air measures, the need to switch to an electric mode of transport despite the current lack of a CAZ, available e-transport options, as well as the city council’s incentives to help switching.
Southampton clean air initiatives
The set of policies in place predominantly target public transport, taxis, and increased cycling. They include:
- Retrofitting buses with cleaner exhaust technology
- Taxi driver grants to upgrade to eco-friendly vehicles
- Educational hubs to increase citizen’s awareness of personal emissions
With no financial implications for the average person, this probably leaves traditional vehicle drivers wondering why the local NO2 pollution plan should concern them at all?
On top of serious health issues outlined by the World Health Organisation, nitrous oxide(s) pollution is a serious aspect of the negative environmental impact of urbanised areas, and road vehicles are responsible for a third of the pollution.
Amongst other adverse effects, NO2 in the atmosphere creates acid rain (damaging ecosystem) and hazy conditions that make it difficult to see.
Future clean air initiatives
Even though the environmental and health defects of NO2 pollution won’t directly affect your wallet, the uncertainty surrounding the future of Southampton’s clean air policies could.
The Green City Charter is Southampton’s plan to become a more sustainable city. The charter will further address roadside NO2 pollution, starting with a review of the city’s current air quality action plan.
If deemed necessary, new fee-policies may be rolled out to include:
- Workplace parking levies
- Localised road closures
- Emissions based parking charges
More importantly, and potentially consequential for high polluting vehicles, is that the charter’s leading pledge is for the city to be carbon neutral by 2030.
2030 is ambitious, especially as the government highlighted in 2018 that:
- Only 0.5 percent of all UK licensed vehicles were ultra-low emissions (ULEV)
- Road transport accounted for 20 percent of UK greenhouse gas emissions
- Road traffic has been increasing since 1990
With these discouraging statistics in mind, Southampton becoming a net zero city by 2030 will almost definitely mean stricter pollution regulations for all standard petrol and diesel vehicles.
Therefore, it may not be long before Southampton commuters are charged for their vehicle pollution.
Across the UK the crackdown on vehicle emissions also seems to be moving in favour of charging regular commuters as well as private hire and HGV vehicles.
In June of this year Birmingham and Bath became the second and third cities, after London, to put in place a fee-charging CAZ.
The government says that several other cities will be delivering on their own CAZ plans throughout 2021 and 2022.
If Southampton follows this increasing trend and reverts to the original plan of a city-wide CAZ, several cost and journey barriers would become problems for drivers of non-compliant vehicles.
Source: Southampton City Council
2018 proposed city-wide Southampton CAZ.
Southampton clean air transport alternatives
Southampton offers great incentives to go electric!
Those wanting a plug-in electric car can get government help:
- 90 percent reduction for city centre parking season tickets
- Toll free Itchen Bridge crossing
- Generous charging facilities
- £3,500 grant to buy the vehicle
- Zero tax for zero-emissions capable vehicles (reduced rate for low emissions)
Although better for the environment, an electric car might not be the most cost nor traffic friendly.
For city commuters who want to guarantee that they’re not impacted by any future air pollution fees, but need something for a lower budget, e-bikes are an excellent alternative.
Practical and great for avoiding city traffic, an e-bike will ensure that you don’t fall foul of any future emissions-fee policies.
For more information about Southampton's clean air plans check out the city council website.
Book a call with our low-emission experts today to discuss the best low carbon alternative for you.
Source: Southampton City Council