Workplace parking levy mooted in Manchester air pollution plans
Businesses in Manchester could be subject to a workplace parking levy in the future as the city looks to deal with air pollution as quickly and effectively as possible.
The levy is one of a number of measures being explored by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM), as it responds to the Government’s air quality plans, which have seen Central Government instruct several local authorities across the UK, including seven within Greater Manchester, to produce plans to improve air quality as soon as possible.
As part of the Government directive, Greater Manchester must assess the feasibility of charge-based Clean Air Zones, as the benchmark measure against which other options will be assessed. These other options include: a workplace parking levy as part of parking policies; air pollution awareness-raising campaigns; and behaviour change schemes: improved cycling and walking infrastructure; measures to reduce the environmental impact of freight; parking policies; public transport improvements; encouraging use of alternative fuels; better traffic management; tackling congestion; and incentives to encourage greener vehicle use and cleaner buses and taxis.
TfGM added that this was the very early stages of its work to explore options for the final Greater Manchester Clean Air Plan, which needs to be submitted by December 2018, with a short list of measures to be investigated.
Helen Smith, head of environment, freight and logistics at TfGM, added that the plans are still at a relatively early stage, commenting: “Parking is an area that we need to consider and we will be developing feasibility studies that look at parking charges for different times of day and vehicle type, across the region, as well as investigating options for a workplace parking levy.
“These are just some of a number of measures being considered. No decisions have been taken on how best to clean up the air we all breathe in the shortest possible time.”
The plans come as a number of cities explore measures to improve air quality, in particular Leeds, Birmingham, Nottingham, Derby and Southampton, which were each listed in the December 2015 UK Air Quality Plan as needing to deploy a CAZ by 2020 to ensure compliance with the EU Directive on air quality.
Recent weeks have seen Leeds City Council announce that it’s readying for the introduction of a charging Clean Air Zone (CAZ) from late 2018 with fleets being asked for input.
Although some have labelled a possible workplace parking levy in Manchester as another congestion charge, Campaign for Better Transport urged for consideration of the benefits as it pointed out that a similar scheme introduced in Nottingham in 2012 has cut congestion, improved air quality and funded much better public transport by raising £9m a year.
Stephen Joseph, Campaign for Better Transport’s chief executive, said: “Nottingham has shown that a levy on parking spaces at work can help tackle city traffic problems – not by clobbering motorists but by getting money for improving alternatives to driving.
“It’s very different from a congestion charge – it’s easier and cheaper to administer and is better targeted, and legally all the money raised has to go on transport.”