Greater Manchester Clean Air Zone paused after fears for local businesses

The Greater Manchester Clean Air Zone has been put on pause after backlash over impact on local businesses.

Currently, 1,200 premature deaths in Greater Manchester occur every year as a result of illegal air quality caused by NO2 exhaust emissions.

Modelling has shown that there are 152 locations across the 10 Greater Manchester local authority areas where NO2 emissions will remain beyond legal levels without action.

In March 2020, the government issued a legal direction requiring the ten Greater Manchester local authorities to address the problem by introducing a Category C charging clean air zone. This applies to commercial vehicles including HGVs, buses, coaches, minibuses, vans, taxis and private hire vehicles that do not meet prescribed national standards for NO2 emissions.

The plan aimed to meet legal levels by 2024 at the latest.

However, in a statement, the GMCA admits that the plan is reliant on the ability of those owning the most polluting non-compliant vehicles to upgrade to cleaner vehicles.

Whilst the plan did also include £120m of government funding to support those upgrades, there are fears that this is not going to be enough, with businesses already struggling with supply chain issues and inflation.

A protest was held in Stockport last week over the clean air zone in support of smaller businesses.

Meanwhile, Rebecca Long-Bailey has written a letter to MP George Eustice, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, outlining her concerns for both sole traders and large businesses.

In a tweet, Long-Bailey said: “Tackling air pollution is urgent but Gov must not do it by loading costs onto the backs of working people. I’ve written to the Govt’s SoS for Environment about the detrimental impact the GM Clean Air Zone will have on many businesses and residents across Salford and GM.”

 

The Greater Manchester Air Quality Administration Committee will meet on 20th January to consider how the plan will move forward, however Greater Manchester authorities are not permitted to “vary, revoke or suspend their implementation of the local plan for NO2 compliance … without the prior written consent of the Secretary of State.”

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