Greater Manchester asks businesses for views on Clean Air Zone

Greater Manchester is asking businesses for their views on a proposed 500 square mile Clean Air Zone (CAZ), covering 10 council areas, as well as other measures to improve air quality in the region.

The CAZ would come into force from 2021 and would initially mean that buses, coaches, HGVs, taxis and private hire vehicles that do not meet emission standards would be required to pay a daily penalty to drive in Greater Manchester.

Other measures proposed in the Clean Air Plan include building 600 new public rapid EV charging points across the region and an ‘unprecedented’ £116m upgrade programme to clean up bus, coach, minibus, HGV, taxi and van fleets over the next two-to-four years.

However, the CAZ will not apply to private cars after the authority argued it would negatively impact more deprived communities unable to afford to upgrade their vehicles.

The decision was criticised by Friends of the Earth Manchester who said private cars were a ‘major part of the problem’.

Deputy Mayor of Greater Manchester Sir Richard Leese, said: ‘Air pollution at the roadside is one of the biggest threats to our health in Greater Manchester. And, as a result, it affects how productive we are.

‘We need to make sure that our Clean Air Plan proposals tackle air pollution from commercial road vehicles as quickly as possible to protect the health of us all – including the most vulnerable groups such as children, older people and those with existing health conditions.

‘We recognise that our proposals could be challenging for many businesses across the region, in particular, small businesses and sole traders – the backbone of our economy.

‘That’s why we’re working with businesses of all types and sizes to understand how the proposals could affect them and to make sure that the right funding from government and support is available to help them switch to cleaner vehicles or retrofit their older, most polluting vehicles.’

Greater Manchester has asked the government to provide a ‘major package of funding’ to support their plans.

A seven-week clean air conversation runs until Sunday June 30. More information is available at cleanairgm.com,

A final business case for the GM Clean Air Plan would be developed by the end of 2019, following public consultation, and subject to further local authority approvals.