Greater Manchester Clean Air Zone Put on Hold
GM Clean Air Zone Faces Uncertain Future As It’s Placed On Hold
The warning road-signs are already up, but a last-minute referal to Westminster following a huge backlash from local businesses and drivers means that the Greater Manchester Clean Air Zone has been put on hold.
Under-fire Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited the North West last week and voiced his concerns that the GM CAZ was unworkable – despite it being a legal requirement that the area “cleaned up” it’s emission levels.
News then broke on late on Friday just gone, that Greater Manchester Mayor – Andy Burnham – had been told that the scheme could be placed on hold for further consultation – with a revised plan due now in July.
In a statement from the Government, it said;
“This will allow Greater Manchester to provide further evidence and a revised plan by July, setting out how it will deliver legal levels of NO2 [nitrogen dioxide] as soon as possible, and no later than 2026.
“In making this decision, the environment secretary has made it clear that it is his priority to fulfil the government’s legal obligations to deliver compliance with NO2 limits in the shortest time possible.”
What this means for the Greater Manchester Clean Air Zone
Whilst this postponement may come as welcome news for local businesses there are a couple of points worth considering with this news.
Firstly, the decision is sure to garner some positive PR for the PM and his much-maligned Government.
The costs of the Great Manchester Clean Air Zone were between £7.50 to as much as £60 a day for some vehicles that didn’t meet the required standards.
For businesses operating smaller fleets of older vehicles, this was potentially going to be leaving them liable to significant out-goings.
On top of the financial impact of Covid, the groundswell of opinion was that these CAZ costs would pose a serious threat to many smaller businesses.
In addition to this – the current climate in the automotive industry means that finding replacement vehicles is difficult enough – even if there was the willing to change.
By allowing more time for consideration of alternate plans, businesses can have a bit more breathing space.
The reality is though that something has to be done sooner rather than later. The issues that brought about the plan in the first place remain.
Greater Manchester has a legal obligation to meet emission levels.
How serious are the emission levels in Greater Manchester?
Greater Manchester’s emission levels have been illegal for over a decade.
Currently there are FIFTY-TWO stretches of road across the region which break the legal limits for nitrogen oxide.
Needless to say Green Campaigners are not happy with the decision and are pushing for something to be done.
A group of environmental lawyers – Client Earth – have said the postponement is “concerning” and are considering legal action if improvements to the emission levels aren’t made.
So what next?
The reality is that the authority in Greater Manchester and Andy Burnham has a couple of months to come up with an alternative plan.
Funding has already started to be handed out to businesses to replace vehicles. However it may be that the request for more funding is put in.
Many of those who don’t qualify for the funding are still left in a situation of flux though.
As already mentioned, the supply issues surrounding new vehicles are still huge and impacting on the second hand vehicle market.
Other Clean Air Zones
In terms of the future of the Greater Manchester Clean Air Zone and for other clean air zones across the UK, things may have become somewhat clouded by this decision.
Similar zones are already in operation in Birmingham and Bath. London is operating it’s expanded ULEZ low emission zone and other cities are looking to introduce similar Clean Air Zones this year.
Whilst it seems like that the scheme is going to launch in Greater Manchester in some way, at some point – what that will now look like is uncertain.
One options could be an extended period of grace to allow businesses to fund and find compliant vehicles.
Whatever happens though, the reality is that nothing will be done. The issue surround the NO2 levels won’t go away without some intervention.
As well as a legal obligation to tackle the NO2 levels, the Government and leaders of other cities in line for similar CAZ’s will be keen for Greater Manchester to come up with it’s revised plan as soon as possible.
DID YOU KNOW? : You can keep upto date with the Greater Manchester Clean Air Zone news and all the other Clean Air Zones and Low Emission Zones with our Vehicle Guide – “Clean Air Zone” section. Click the button below to find out more.
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