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Greater Manchester warns coronavirus could ‘significantly change’ clean air plans

The Greater Manchester Combined Authority will delay its statutory Clean Air Plan and Clean Air Zone consultation, due to the coronavirus pandemic, warning that the economic impacts of the virus could ‘significantly change the assumptions’ that sits behind the plans.

The consultation had been planned for this summer however, the current coronavirus crisis has limited the authorities ability to progress the delivery of the plan to previous timescales.

The CAZ is a key part of the plan, spanning 10 local authority areas across Greater Manchester. HGVs, LGVs, buses and taxis would be charged to enter the CAZ if they don’t meet nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions standards. Private cars would not be charged.

It’s complemented with a vehicle upgrade programme and 600 new electric vehicle charging points.

Greater Manchester says they ‘remain committed’ to cleaning up its air but warn that the wider economic impacts due to coronavirus could change how the plan is ultimately formed going forward.

Cllr Andrew Western, Greater Manchester Green City-region lead, said: ‘These are exceptional times that are impacting on all areas of life. Unfortunately, we need to postpone the Clean Air Plan consultation until the restrictions on all our daily lives have been lifted and we better understand the impact of COVID-19 on businesses in Greater Manchester.

‘Work is under way to understand the local impacts of the pandemic. Whilst the government has made a number of financial packages available to businesses and the self-employed in this extraordinary situation, our residents and businesses are rightly focused on ensuring that they and their families and employees stay safe.

‘We are mindful of the significant changes that could result from these exceptional times. The transport sector has already been impacted by the pandemic, and government policies to limit it spreading.

‘Greater Manchester will be focused on recovering from revenue losses, and further thought and consideration is needed to see how we can move forward with the Clean Air Plan requirements for cleaner business fleets, in a post-pandemic environment.

‘The groups most affected by our Clean Air Plan may require different levels of financial assistance than we had anticipated at the time of our previous submission to government.

‘Our commitment to cleaning up Greater Manchester’s air has not wavered but these are exceptional times that require us to work flexibly and be pragmatic about how we achieve our air quality targets in these unprecedented circumstances.’

Leeds and Birmingham have both delayed their CAZs due to the coronavirus pandemic and Oxford has delayed its Zero Emission Zone (ZEZ).

Photo Credit – Pixabay

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