Greater Manchester has published its finalised Clean Air Plan to help tackle air pollution across the city-region, and has secured £120 million in government funding to help businesses comply with the new emissions rules.
Applications for funding will open from November to allow local businesses to upgrade to cleaner, lower-emission vehicles before a daily charge for the most polluting commercial vehicles is introduced. Hackney and private hire vehicles (PHV) licensed by a GM District, vans, minibuses, GM-registered coaches and wheelchair-accessible taxis will be exempt from charges until 2023. Following an eight-week consultation last year, small businesses have been given longer to comply due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Private vehicles are exempt from the charges.
The newly published plan marks out Greater Manchester’s Clean Air Zone, where charges and emissions restrictions will apply. It covers the entire road network in all 10 Greater Manchester boroughs, excluding motorways and stretches of A-roads maintained by Highways England, such as the A663, linking J21 of the M60 with the A627(M), and the A5103 between J3 of the M56 and J5 of the M60. Although maintained by Highways England, the organisation has agreed that the Clean Air Zone will also cover the A57 and A628 in Tameside due to the high air pollution detected in this area.
Following consultation and protracted negotiations with government, GM has increased funding support per vehicle for HGVs, coaches, vans, GM Hackney cabs and PHVs to help businesses comply with the Clean Air Plan. Vans can now access up to £4.5k towards the replacement of a vehicle – £1k more than initially proposed – and GM Hackney Cabs can get up to £10k. HGVs can now get up to £12k towards replacement, nearly three times more than was initially offered, and coaches are now eligible for £32k.
Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said:
Greater Manchester were the pioneers of the industrial revolution, now we are leading a green revolution, backed with over £120 million that we’ve secured to hand over to businesses to support making their vehicles compliant.
“We listened hard to what business owners wanted and, as a result, taxi drivers are being given more time, more funding and more options. This is part of our wider commitment to put GM-licensed hackney and private hire drivers first, and to lobby government to give us the powers to ensure that only locally licensed drivers are able to operate here.
“The fact is that air pollution is not a problem that is going to go away on its own. Not only has our plan been directed by national government, we’ve taken this seriously and fought to get a plan which has the right funding support for residents and to protect those most vulnerable as well as our trade and businesses. This plan will also have major health and wellbeing benefits for people living near motorways or major roads as there will be less polluting vehicles and HGVs using them.
Greater Manchester lead for Clean Air, Councillor Andrew Western, said:
We want Greater Manchester to be a healthy, sustainable and happy place to grow up, get on and get old and we can’t afford to be complacent about this globally significant issue.
“Over the past year, we’ve rightly focused on supporting our people and our businesses through the terrible impacts of the pandemic. As we now look to recover, and after considering the impact of COVID-19, we want to continue helping those most affected, including small businesses and taxi drivers, by giving them more time as we look to build back better and greener with certainty.”
Greater Manchester’s Transport Commissioner, Chris Boardman, added:
Today is a major milestone for the city-region – not only do we have a solid plan to make vehicles on our roads cleaner, we’ll soon be bringing cycle hire to our streets – providing a healthy, convenient, non-polluting transport option for tens of thousands of people. Together with our plans for hundreds of miles of cycling and walking routes by 2024, we are building a truly world-leading sustainable transport system.”
Leaders from all ten GM local authorities will be asked to endorse the city-region’s Clean Air Plan – which includes the launch of a GM-wide Clean Air Zone on 30 May 2022 – at the next Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) meeting on 25 June 2021. This will be followed by approval by individual councils at their meetings.
Picture: Transport Commissioner Chris Boardman (L) and GM Mayor Andy Burnham (R) also announced Beryl as the provider of a new e-bike hire scheme that will launch in Manchester, Salford and Trafford.