Latest update on the GM Clean Air Plan
Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) will receive an update on the next steps to produce the final GM Clean Air Plan at its meeting on Friday 29 January.
A report published today confirms that the final plan – including proposals for a GM-wide charging Clean Air Zone – will be put before Greater Manchester councils as soon as possible, and by summer 2021 at the latest.
The ten GM local authorities are under direction from Government to introduce a category C Charging Clean Air Zone to secure compliance with nitrogen dioxide (NO2) standards on local roads in the shortest possible time, and by 2024 at the latest.
During an 8-week-long public consultation between 8 October and 3 December 2020, 4,765 responses were received from businesses, organisations and the general public.
Feedback was given on key elements such as the proposed Clean Air Zone boundary, daily charges for affected commercial and passenger vehicles, and the proposed £150m government funding support package. The consultation also sought feedback on how COVID-19 has affected businesses, Taxis and private hire services in Greater Manchester.
At the same time, a consultation was held on the closely linked Minimum Licensing Standards (MLS) for taxi and private hire services.
An independent research agency is now working to analyse and report the information gathered from the two consultations to help local authority decision makers make a fully informed decision on the final plans.
Further work is also taking place to understand the economic impact of COVID-19 on traders and businesses whose current business vehicles would not meet the mandated standards that the Clean Air Plan must enforce.
The final Clean Air Plan will consider the feedback received through the consultation and whether the proposed funding support package will be sufficient to support impacted vehicle owners in the face of the impact of the pandemic on the economy. As well as looking at the expected improvements in air quality that would be achieved through the plan.
Analysis has shown that the pandemic won’t lead to a big enough long-term reduction in harmful nitrogen dioxide air pollution on our local roads to meet legal limits without implementing a Clean Air Zone.
The government has committed £41m so far to the programme. Greater Manchester is currently proposing a £150m-plus package of support for Greater Manchester businesses, to help them upgrade to cleaner, compliant vehicles that do not incur a daily charge, before the Zone is introduced.
This includes proposals for a £28m Clean Taxi Fund for taxi and private hire drivers and operators to switch to cleaner vehicles and a £10m Hardship Fund to support those businesses most vulnerable to the economic impacts of the daily charges. However, given the impact of COVID-19, this level of funding may not be enough to mitigate the potential adverse economic impacts of the pandemic and the Clean Air Zone.
Clean Vehicle Funds will be available before the zone is introduced to allow impacted Greater Manchester businesses, taxi and private hire services time to upgrade to compliant vehicles and not have to pay a daily charge to drive in the zone. TfGM will act as an ‘operating body’ responsible for day to day operation of the Zone and implementing other Clean Air Plan measures.
Taxis and private hire services need to continue to play an important role in Greater Manchester’s plans for a fully joined-up and environmentally friendly transport system. We’ll continue to engage and work with the trade and will provide an update in the coming months once the final GM Clean Air Plan is put forward to decision makers.
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