Greater Manchester’s council leaders and the Mayor have agreed an outline business case to put to Government for the introduction of clean air zone charging.
Why is this happening:
People will be aware of the significant concerns about rising air pollution across the country. The Government has placed legal responsibility for complying with NO2 limits with local authorities.
The proposals are that:
– All diesel buses and HGV lorries that do not meet emissions standards would pay £100 a day to drive in Greater Manchester (not including motorways).
– All diesel taxis, minibuses and vans that do not meet the emissions standards would pay £7.50 a day to drive in Greater Manchester. (not including motorways).
A two-phase approach would see diesel buses, coaches, HGVs, taxis and private hire vehicles face daily charges from 2021, charges for vans would follow by 2023.
There would be no charges for private cars.
Part of the business case being put to Government is that there would be Government money made available to help non-compliant buses, lorries, vans, taxis be upgraded or ‘retro-fitted’ to be non or low emission vehicles.
Issues and Comments
The plan has been criticised from different sides:
Friends of the Earth are critical that the plan is not fast enough, and does not cover all polluting vehecles.
Manchester Friends of the Earth say:
“We are dismayed that Greater Manchester will not tackle illegal levels of air pollution before 2024.
Greater Manchester has the highest rates of emergency admissions to hospital for asthma in the whole country. But Greater Manchester will not have a plan in place before the end of 2019 and is not planning to achieve legally compliant air quality levels before 2024.
The government’s own evidence is that the most effective measures are Clean Air Zones covering all polluting vehicles. This must be introduced as soon as possible, along with measures to help people out of their cars and into cleaner methods of transport.” (full comments here).
Bus, taxi and fleet operators have also objected to the increased costs:
Stagecoach Manchester hinted the clean air zone plan could make travelling on buses more expensive, with the charges buses would face being passed on to fares.
Figures show Greater Manchester local authorities licence around 2,100 taxi vehicles and 13,800 private hire vehicles. Of those, 89 per cent of taxis and 67 per cent of private hire vehicles are currently non compliant with required emission levels under the plans.
For buses, there are about 2,200 buses operating in Greater Manchester of which about 2,000 are currently not compliant with the regulations. Even we managed to replace or retrofit half of those buses by 2021, then buses would still be charged £36 million a year.
What do you think?
Our view is that something must be done about air pollution. Replacing polluting diesel vehicles with cleaner engines should be a key part of this.
BUT we worry that the charging proposals as they are will hurt too many people (anyone who uses a bus, self employed and small businesses etc).
For the Prestwich area, we worry that no attention is being given to motorways, which are one of our biggest sources of air pollution.
We think we must also focus on reducing the number of cars on the road – for example by increasing Metrolink use by making fares affordable (currently 1 in 8 passengers don’t pay at all!) and providing increased capacity, AND by making walking and cycling safer and more attractive.
Let us know your views – to Councillor Tim Pickstone – email@example.com
– The plans need to be submitted to government by the end of March
– Everyone in Greater Manchester – residents, businesses, organisations, interest groups andpoliticians – will have the chance to have their say and help shape how we tackle air pollution. GM will be launching a public conversation in mid-May, running until the end of June, for people to give feedback and help shape the detailed design.
– A Full Business Case would then be developed by the end of 2019.
– Subject to government approval, measures would be introduced by 2021.