Environment Transport

Greater Manchester tells Government: "Play fair on clean air"

  • Ministers fail to support Greater Manchester’s bid for funding to help switch to clean vehicles
  • No funding means small businesses and taxis could be hit by central government ‘clean air tax’

GOVERNMENT’s failure to back Greater Manchester’s clean air proposals with fair funding could put jobs and businesses at risk, the city-region’s Mayor and leaders have said today.

Earlier this year, Greater Manchester submitted detailed plans for a Clean Air Zone covering all 10 boroughs and requested partnership funding to help taxi firms and small businesses switch to cleaner vehicles. Despite the fact that Ministers have provided funding to London to help people change vehicles, no such help has been offered to Greater Manchester.

Instead, the 10 local councils have received a ministerial instruction to accelerate by two years plans to include vans in Clean Air Zone. The instruction to include vans at an earlier date would see small businesses using non-compliant vans paying a daily charge 18 months from now, rather than the city-region’s proposed timeframe of 2023.

Greater Manchester had requested £116m of clean vehicle funding to help local businesses upgrade to clean vehicles and thereby avoid any penalty for travelling through the Clean Air Zone. This included:

• A £59m Clean Freight Fund, for upgrading HGVs and vans

• A £29m Clean Bus Fund to support a switch to a greener bus and coach fleet in the city-region

• A £28m Clean Taxi Fund, for a move to compliant hackney cabs and private hire vehicles.

The Government, after taking three months to respond, have not committed to any funding to support businesses. Instead it’s offering £36m ring-fenced to create a network of cameras that would issue fines to those in breach.

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham and Greater Manchester Green City-region lead, Councillor Andrew Western, are today calling for an urgent meeting with the Secretary of State for the Environment.

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “Greater Manchester stands ready to move at pace to clean up our polluted air and work in partnership with the Government. But it would be unfair to ask Greater Manchester to do this alone and to fund the change by fines on small businesses.

“Taxi drivers in the city have been calling on us to ‘play fair on clean air’. We hear that call and want to help people switch. We don’t want to see a single job or business threatened by the process of cleaning up our air. But we can’t guarantee this without help from the Government.

“That’s why we’re backing their call. Our message to the Government is clear: give Greater Manchester the funds we need to clean up our air and don’t impose a ‘clean air tax’ on our businesses. Give Greater Manchester the same support as London and play fair on clean air.”

Green City-region Portfolio Lead for Greater Manchester, Councillor Andrew Western, added: “Poor air quality is the largest environmental public health issue facing the UK, with air pollution estimated to contribute to the equivalent of 1,200 deaths in Greater Manchester each year.

“Our proposals are clearly designed to take the dirtiest vehicles off our streets as quickly as possible. We don’t want people who have no choice but to stick with their polluting vehicle in the short term paying a daily penalty. But, by demanding that Greater Manchester bring forward the implementation of a Clean Air Zone affecting non-compliant vans by two years, that’s exactly what the ministerial instruction would do. It’s counter-productive.

“We received thousands of responses to our Clean Air conversation in May and June which shows that people and businesses in Greater Manchester care a lot about cleaning up our air and want to work with councils to get the right final plan for the city-region.

“We want to support businesses now to upgrade their vehicles. We’ve asked government for an unprecedented £116m of clean vehicle funding which would go directly to businesses using vans, taxi and private hire drivers, freight and bus operators to upgrade their fleets in the next two-to-four years. But the government has committed no Clean Air Plan funding at all to help Greater Manchester businesses deal with air pollution from their vehicles.”

The Greater Manchester Clean Air Plan proposals are a collaboration between the 10 Greater Manchester local authorities, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) and Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM).

ENDS

Media contact: 0161 244 1055 or email mediarelations@tfgm.com

Editors’ Notes:

1. Extensive work has been carried out by Greater Manchester local authorities to help develop a proposed package of measures to tackle the health threat posed by the roadside NO2issue as quickly and effectively as possible, while also protecting local people, businesses and the economy.

2. In March this year, Greater Manchester submitted to government an Outline Business Case for the Greater Manchester Clean Air Plan to reduce roadside nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels on local roads in as short a time as possible.

Poor air quality is the largest environmental public health issue facing the UK, with air pollution estimated to contribute to the equivalent of 1,200 deaths in Greater Manchester each year.

The Clean Air Plan aims to balance the impact of a Clean Air Zone with a need to support Greater Manchester businesses to upgrade their vehicles through the clean vehicle government funding package, so they would not need to pay the daily penalty.

3. Greater Manchester’s Clean Air Plan proposals include:

  • A £116m upgrade programme to clean up the city-region’s bus, coach, minibus, HGV, taxi and van fleets.
  • A Clean Air Zone covering all 10 Greater Manchester local council areas with a population of nearly three million people across 500 square miles, the largest proposed Clean Air Zone in the UK.
  • Significant investment in 600 new public rapid electric vehicle charging points across the city-region – nearly trebling the size of the GMEV electric charging network.

4. The proposed Greater Manchester Clean Air Zone would be implemented 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.

From 2023, the Clean Air Zone would also include non-compliant vans, minibuses, motorhomes and motorised horseboxes – when the availability of compliant vans on the market will make switching a viable option.

5. Ongoing engagement with business and affected groups has indicated that there isn’t a sufficiently large market in compliant vans that would allow Greater Manchester businesses to upgrade by 2021.

A seven-week public conversation on the proposals ended on 30 June 2019. Thousands of responses have been received and will be used to help further develop the Greater Manchester Clean Air Plan. A statutory public consultation will take place on detailed proposals.

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

To find out more visit www.CleanAirGM.com

ENDS

For further information please contact the Communications and Engagement team on 0161 608 4092 or email: news@greatermanchester-ca.gov.uk

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Article Published: 16/07/2019 11:56 AM