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Plans for charging clean air zone in Greater Manchester confirmed

Greater Manchester has confirmed its plans to deploy a charging clean air zone from 2021, bringing burdens for local businesses including van fleets.

The plans will impact vans from 2023 but not cars

The plans, which go before Greater Manchester leaders this Friday (1 March), are outlined in the report to Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) and are intended to significantly reduce harmful nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions from road vehicles; it’s has been estimated that polluted air contributes to the equivalent of 1,200 deaths a year in Greater Manchester alone.

The charging clean air zone would cover all 10 Greater Manchester local authorities and would require owners of non-compliant HGVs, buses, taxis, private hire vehicles, vans and minibuses to pay a daily penalty to drive in Greater Manchester. However, cars would not be affected as, according to Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, 80% are already compliant.

The proposed clean air zone would be implemented from 2021 and would initially mean that owners of the most polluting buses, non-compliant HGVs, taxis and private hire vehicles would be required to pay a daily penalty to drive in Greater Manchester.

From 2023 the clean air zone would also incorporate non-compliant vans – with the combined authority saying that by this date, the availability of compliant vans on the market will make switching a viable option.

Councillor Alex Ganotis, Greater Manchester Green City-Region Lead, said: “Greater Manchester’s 10 local authorities are showing leadership in developing ambitious proposals to tackle nitrogen dioxide roadside emissions urgently.

“Our proposals offer a balanced approach to addressing this very serious problem while taking potential social and economic impacts into account. They are the result of detailed technical work to understand the scale of the issue, consider options in line with the government’s process, and start producing the right scheme for Greater Manchester.

“However, we know that the right solution can only be developed through engagement with the groups most affected by the proposals.

“I look forward to local councils considering the proposed package of measures and I can assure everyone in Greater Manchester that they’ll have the chance to have their say so we can shape together how we tackle air pollution before any final decisions are made.”

However, the FTA has slammed the proposals, which it says will hurt local business.

Malcolm Bingham, head of policy for the North of England at FTA, said: “The logistics sector is fully committed to reducing vehicle emissions wherever possible and acknowledges the role the industry must play in improving the air quality of our cities. Yet it is essential that an air quality scheme for Greater Manchester is developed with the needs of businesses the serve the area in mind. A charging CAZ of this scale would cause operating costs for some small businesses to soar, unfairly penalising the hard-working companies and individuals that keep Greater Manchester’s economy thriving, while ignoring other contributors to emissions levels across the city.”

Instead the FTA says the local councils should follow the approaches of cities such as Nottingham and Leeds in finding alternatives to clean air zones. Bingham continued: “Nottingham City Council successfully presented its case to DEFRA that other solutions can deliver a better outcome in a quicker time frame, without damaging the local economy. The truth is CAZs bring no long-term air quality benefit, as all the vehicles operating in Manchester will reach this standard in a few years without it.  Councils would be better placed to concentrate on traffic management and encourage the uptake of ultra-low emission vehicles.

“If Manchester feels it must implement a CAZ, it should scale the CAZ back to mitigate the very worst economic damage by, for example, excluding key industrial areas in the short-term, like Leeds. FTA is calling upon Manchester to follow suit, and for the local councils to carefully evaluate whether a charging CAZ, covering such a large area, truly is the best option for them.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day.