9 August 2019
A call for vans to be included in Greater Manchester’s Clean Air Zone (CAZ) by 2021 has been described as “an additional tax on the area’s small businesses”.
Making the claim, Mags Simpson of the Freight Transport Association (FTA) said that it is essential that an air quality scheme for Greater Manchester is developed with the needs of businesses that serve the area in mind.
The FTA was responding to news that a request by Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) for £116 million of clean vehicle funding to help local businesses upgrade to clean vehicles has been rejected by Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey.
Instead, Ms Coffey has instructed the 10 councils that comprise the GMCA to bring forward plans to include vans in the CAZ within two years.
That demand seems set to see small businesses that use non-compliant vans having to pay a daily charge just 18 months from now, rather than in 2023.
While the original proposals allowed time for vehicles to be replaced or upgraded, the new plan will force operators to obtain new vehicles ahead of their standard replacement cycle – or face a regime of punitive daily charges, Ms Simpson warned.
Greater Manchester’s proposed CAZ will be the largest in the UK and will initially see heavy goods vehicles (HGVs), buses, taxis and coaches charged for driving in the region if they do not comply with NO2 emissions standards.
Commenting on the news, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said that the region stands ready to move at pace to clean up its polluted air and work in partnership with the Government.
“But it would be unfair,” he added, “to ask Greater Manchester to do this alone and to fund the change by fines on small businesses.”