Southampton City Council and New Forest District Council were asked by Government to assess the need for a Clean Air Zone in Southampton, and have been working together to submit separate business plans to Government to improve air quality so that nitrogen dioxide in the city is within the EU limit by 2020.

We now know through our technical assessments, in part due to the delivery of £15 million worth of projects over the last three years, that we have managed to reduce nitrogen dioxide by 24% in the most polluted areas, without the need for a charging zone. This means that by 2020 the city will be within the EU limit.  Examples of projects which have contributed to this include introducing cleaner city buses assisted by £2.7M secured from the Government’s clean bus technology fund; a low emission taxi incentive scheme; introduction of cleaner fuels and equipment at Southampton’s port; and investing £3.9M in our cycling infrastructure.

The recent Clean Air Zone consultation yielded an unprecedented 9,309 responses and clearly showed that city expectations and ambitions for cleaner air go beyond simply achieving legal compliance with the EU limit.

The council appreciates that it still has a long way to go and will be working with partners to create a bold new Green City Charter which will address a range of environmental issues including an ambitious aspiration to cut nitrogen dioxide pollution to 25ug/m3 by 2025 and to be carbon neutral by 2040.

Ahead of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee on the Clean Air Zone on 16 January, we have published our Proposed Business Case to deliver compliance with the EU limit for nitrogen dioxide by 2020. Cabinet will consider the Proposed Business Case and the development of a Green City Charter at a Special Cabinet meeting on the 22 January at Southampton Guildhall, before the final business case is submitted to Government by the 31 January.