Greater Manchester CAZ zone referred to government for review
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The plan for Greater Manchester's clean air zone, which is to see older, more polluting vehicles pay to drive in and around the Greater Manchester area, will be referred back to the government for review.
The local authorities behind the plan claim the zone will reduce harmful air pollution on roads, making the city-region safer for everyone. The new rules mean some of the most polluting commercial and passenger vehicles will have to pay a daily charge to travel in the zone. As of May 30th, some commercial vehicles shall be charged between £7.50 and £60.
The CAZ spans an area of approximately 493 miles, which makes it the largest in all of the UK. As many as 800 cameras have had to be set up in order to monitor compliance with the scheme.
Government funding is available to help eligible Greater Manchester people, businesses and organisations upgrade to cleaner, compliant vehicles and thus not have to pay a daily charge. Applications for this financial support can be completed today; eligible HGV operators with a non-compliant vehicle can apply for grants and finance options at cleanairgm.com.
However, the plans have angered businesses and residents living just outside the zone, who will now have to upgrade their vehicles at their own cost to enter Greater Manchester without being charged. Multiple reports in the local press indicate that most of the complaints are coming from the owners of LGVs.
Earlier this month, due to vehicle supply problems, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GCMA) stated its intention to delay plans to charge vans and Manchester-based taxis entering the CAZ. Nevertheless, it said that “buses, HGVs and non-Greater Manchester taxi and private hire vehicles” would continue to be charged from May 2022. The Road Haulage Association (RHA) reacted angrily to the statement, branding it unfair and discriminatory.
Last week, the Federation of Small Businesses development manager for Greater Manchester, Robert Downes, said:
“Hopefully the relevant authorities in Greater Manchester have at last woken up to the fact their plans to introduce a Clean Air Zone need a major rethink. I don’t want to pre-empt any decision the mayor and the council leaders come to this week, but if this is the case it’s a victory for common sense. However, the massive backlash we have seen from our small business community this week comes as no surprise to the FSB.”
Announcing the decision to refer the plan to the government, Mayor Andy Burnham referred to the availability problems in the commercial vehicle market:
GM has tried in good faith to make the Government’s legal direction work. However, changes in the vehicle market mean it is impossible to proceed on the current basis without causing real hardship to some of our residents.
— Andy Burnham (@AndyBurnhamGM) January 20, 2022