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Portsmouth clean air zone guide: what to know

August 02, 2023 by

The Portsmouth Clean Air Zone (CAZ) is a government initiative to reduce air pollution. It was introduced on 29 November 2021 and currently applies to taxis, buses, coaches and heavy goods vehicles.

This article will explain everything you need to know from the area it covers to special exemptions and charges for entering the zone.

Why was a clean air zone introduced in Portsmouth?

The Clean Air Zone was introduced to tackle the rising pollution levels around Portsmouth city centre. It is designed to encourage the adoption of lower emission vehicles and to ease congestion. It aims to do this by charging a fee to high-polluting vehicles when they enter the CAZ.

Where is the clean air zone in Portsmouth?

The total area covered by the Clean Air Zone is approximately three square kilometres. It is situated to the south west of Portsmouth and extends to Portsmouth harbour on its most western side. Running east past the University of Portsmouth and then up along the west of Fratton and Kingston Road to the start of the M275. It then heads down along the A3 past the Cascades and Alfred Road back to Portsmouth Harbour.

The Clean Air Zone is permanently active, including weekends, evenings and public holidays. The affected area is clearly marked with boundary signs showing the letter ‘B’ on a white background. In addition, there are warning signs with a cloud symbol on blue background on the approach to the CAZ. These warning signs are located so that motorists have the option to take an alternate route to avoid being charged.

Enforcement of the CAZ is done by Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology, utilizing 55 cameras within the zone.

What vehicles have to pay to enter Portsmouth’s clean air zone?

The Portsmouth CAZ falls into class B and currently applies to:

  • Taxis
  • Private hire vehicles
  • Buses
  • Coaches
  • Heavy goods vehicles

If these vehicles do not meet Euro 6 emissions standards (diesel) or Euro 4 emissions standards (petrol), then they will be charged for entering the zone.

There are four classes of CAZ in the UK, with Portsmouth having a more lenient class B rating compared to other cities that have also implemented their own Clean Air Zones. This rating means that passenger vehicles and vans are currently exempt from the charges.

However, as with many similar initiatives across the UK, the area the zone covers, and the vehicles affected may be adjusted over time. Find out more on this subject here.

Portsmouth clean air zone charges

The daily charges for entering the CAZ differ based on the vehicle type:

  • £10 a day for non-compliant taxis and Private Hire Vehicles
  • £50 a day for heavy goods vehicles (HGVs), buses and coaches

You can only be charged once per day regardless of how many times you enter the CAZ. The charges reset at the beginning of each day, so if you enter and exit the zone either side of midnight, you will be charged for two days.

How to pay the Portsmouth clean air zone charge

You do not automatically get charged for entering the Clean Air Zone, so it is your responsibility to make payment. This can be done up to six days before entering the zone and up to six days after you have entered it.

How To Pay:

Payment can be made by debit or credit card, postal order, cheque or cash. There are third party apps that allow you to pay your Clean Air Zone charge, but these are not directly affiliated with the local authorities.

Where To Pay:

  • Online using your debit or credit card
  • By calling 0800 876 6576 to access the 24-hour automated payment system
  • In person at a Civic Office
  • Or by sending a cheque or postal order to the parking office at:
    Portsmouth City Council, Civic Offices, Guildhall Square, Portsmouth, PO1 2AL, Hampshire. Make sure that the PCN number is written on the back of the cheque, and it is payable to Portsmouth City Council. Cash is not accepted.

Penalty Charges:

Failing to make the payment within the six-day window will result in a Penalty Charge Notice being issued. The current penalty charge is £120, although this is halved if paid within 14 days. This charge is in addition to the outstanding daily charge owed.


If you pay upfront and your plans change you can apply for a refund by 6pm before the day of your journey, you will be charged a £3 administration fee. You can apply for the refund over the phone on 023 9283 4593, or online.

Portsmouth clean air zone exemptions

The Portsmouth Clean Air Zone is rated as Class ‘B’.

This means that the following vehicles are exempt for charges:

  • Passenger vehicles
  • Motorcycles
  • Vans (Light goods vehicles)

The vehicles below are also exempt if they meet Euro 6 emissions standards (diesel) or Euro 4 emissions standards (petrol):

  • Taxis
  • Private hire vehicles
  • Buses
  • Coaches
  • Heavy goods vehicles

Automatic exemptions also apply to all vehicles falling into the Emergency Services tax class. These include:

  • Ambulances (including veterinary ambulances)
  • Fire Engines and Fire Service vehicles
  • Police vehicles
  • Mine Rescue vehicles
  • Lifeboat Haulage vehicles
  • Lighthouse Authority vehicles
  • Special Vehicles
  • Recovery Vehicles
  • Special Concessionary Vehicles
  • Vintage buses not used for commercial purposes are exempt from paying a charge up to ten days per year
  • Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) sized horse transporters are exempt from paying a charge for up to ten days per year
  • Buses or coaches used at short notice for unplanned rail replacement services

A limited period ‘Sunset Exemption’ applies to the following vehicles:

  • Community and school transport vehicles are exempt on weekdays until 28 November 2023
  • Wheelchair accessible taxis

In all cases, you will need to apply for your exemption by contacting the Portsmouth City Council here. Exemptions do not generally have to be renewed except if vehicle ownership changes and in the case of community and school transport vehicles, where they need to be renewed annually.

You can apply for a local exemption from the council if your vehicle is non-compliant with the Portsmouth Clean Air Zone standards and is listed as being eligible for an exemption or sunset period.

If you are still unsure whether you need to pay to enter the clean air zone, then you can check your vehicle here. You can also get more information on exemptions on the Portsmouth Cleaner Air website here.

Can I appeal a Portsmouth clean air zone charge?

If you receive a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) and feel that it has been issued erroneously, you can contact the authorities in two ways:

  • Use the online parking tickets portal
  • Send a letter to Parking Service, Civic Offices, Guildhall Square, Portsmouth PO1 2NE

You need to do this within 28 days of receiving the notice. The local authority has 56 days to respond to the appeal. If your request to remove the Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) is not successful, you can approach the Traffic Penalty Tribunal for an independent decision.

Reasons to contest a PCN may include being charged even though your vehicle has been registered as exempt or being forced to enter the CGZ due to roadworks or other unforeseen circumstances.

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