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Plan proposed to create cleaner air across Greater Manchester

Greater Manchester’s ten local authorities are working with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) and Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) to produce a clean air plan.

The plan is designed to tackle nitrogen dioxide levels and reduce the health problems associated with poor air quality.

This article looks at why the plan has been put together, what it entails and how it could affect your business.

How bad is the issue?

Polluted air is now the biggest environmental risk to public health in the UK, contributing to approximately 1,200 deaths per year in Greater Manchester alone (The Public Health Outcome Framework indicator 3.01, 2016). It plays a part in breathing-related illnesses, heart disease and even some cancers.

Vulnerable individuals – including children and the elderly – are particularly susceptible to the health problems caused by poor air quality. However poor air affects everyone; in fact, it can reduce overall life expectancy by around six months.

Although air quality is improving in Greater Manchester, the city-region still exceeds the legal annual limits for harmful nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels in many areas.

What has been proposed?

Initial proposals include creating a number of government-funded schemes to help pay for scrappage or upgrading the most polluting vehicles in Greater Manchester. There are also plans to invest in 600 new rapid electric vehicle charging points across the city region. This would treble the current number of charging points.

It’s also hoped that funding will be obtained to help Greater Manchester freight companies, taxi and private hire vehicle drivers and bus operators to introduce cleaner vehicles. If this was to be the case, ‘phase one’ of a Clean Air Zone would be introduced from 2021, providing government funding is granted.

The first phase would only affect businesses rather than residents. The penalty would be applicable to pre-2013 HGVs and buses, pre-2015 diesel taxis and private hire vehicles (pre-2007 for petrol), and pre-2017 mopeds and motorbikes.

Phase two would then come into force in 2023, and would include vans and minibuses with Euro 5 engines or older.

What is a Clean Air Zone?

A Clean Air Zone is a designated area in which drivers of the most polluting vehicles have to pay a penalty.

The scheme differs from a Congestion Charge Zone in the sense that only non-compliant vehicles pay the fine. If a Clean Air Zone was to be introduced in Greater Manchester, cars would not be affected.

How could my business be affected?

For companies with fleets of highly polluting vehicles – such as minibuses, HGVs and LGVs – the proposed Clean Air Zone could be a cause for concern.

However, the proposals also include measures to support local businesses and organisations to upgrade their vehicles to ensure that they are compliant and do not need to pay a penalty.

It’s hoped that funding will be granted to help freight, private hire and bus companies across Greater Manchester to introduce cleaner, greener vehicles.  

What’s next?

A first-stage, informal consultation on the proposals is due to start on May 13. We’re encouraging our business network (our clients, partners, suppliers and the wider Greater Manchester business community)  to have their say – particularly if the plans are likely to affect you and your organisation. You can find the survey here.

The consultation will run until June 30, so there’s plenty of time to have your say. Your feedback, along with further statutory consultation, will be used to inform the final plan by the end of the year.

We will update you to let you know how you can share your views once the consultation opens. In the meantime, you can find out if your vehicle is Clean Air Zone compliant by using this handy vehicle checker.

How we can help

Our Green Tech team works with numerous companies involved in electric vehicles that could support GM businesses to transition their fleets. For example, they could supply and install Electric Vehicle (EV) charging points, help to introduce car-sharing schemes, or supply full EV fleets to businesses. We also host a Low Carbon Network, which is free to access for all organisations and contains information about companies who could help your business to prepare for a potential Clean Air Zone.

Our team of experts is always on-hand to advise you and answer any questions you may have around how a Clean Air Zone could impact your business. If you’d like any help, get in touch today.

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