There’s just over a week left for businesses and people to give their initial views on proposals to tackle roadside air pollution in Greater Manchester.
The seven-week ‘Clean air conversation’ draws to a close at midnight Sunday 30 June, one week after Greater Manchester’s first Clean Air Week.
Around 2,000 people have already completed an online survey, with thousands more giving their comments on the Greater Manchester Clean Air Plan proposals. This feedback will help develop more detailed proposals, which will be consulted on later in the year.
While the majority of responses so far have been from individuals, the Greater Manchester authorities are keen for more businesses and sole traders to give their views, as the proposed measures would be much more likely to affect commercial organisations and companies than residents.
A £116m upgrade programme to clean up the city-region’s bus, coach, minibus, HGV, taxi and van fleets over the next two-to-four years.
A Clean Air Zone covering all 10 Greater Manchester local council areas, where high-polluting, non-compliant HGVs, buses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles, vans, motorhomes, minibuses and motorised horseboxes – but not cars – would be subject to a daily penalty to travel in Greater Manchester.
Significant investment in 600 new public rapid electric vehicle charging points across the city-region – nearly trebling the size of the GMEV electric charging network.
Poor air quality is the largest environmental public health issue facing the UK, with air pollution estimated to contribute to the equivalent of 1,200 deaths in Greater Manchester each year.
Clean Air Week helped raise awareness of the causes of air quality and simple ways to tackle it, like walking and cycling for short journeys.
Thousands of people visited artist Michael Pinsky’s Pollution Pods installation at MediaCityUK, experiencing harmless recreations of the air quality of cities across the world from the truly clean air of Tautra in Norway through to the astonishing smog and pollution of London, New Delhi, Beijing and Sao Paolo.
And young people in schools across Greater Manchester took matters into their own hands by patrolling the streets around their schools, slapping drivers with fake ‘penalty notices’, encouraging them to turn off their engine when they stop to drop off or pick up their children.
Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) has been commissioned by the 10 Greater Manchester local authorities to develop the Clean Air Plan. TfGM Transport Strategy Director Simon Warburton said: “It’s been fantastic to see people from primary school age to residents in sheltered accommodation getting involved in Clean Air Week.
“One of the most important things people can do right now is to give their views on the draft Greater Manchester Clean Air Plan while there’s still a chance to shape the details.
“Our plans have been drawn up according to clear guidance and rules set by the government. The central core of the plan is the Clean Air Zone, but it also includes measures designed to improve air quality more widely.
“While the Clean Air Zone proposal wouldn’t directly target private cars, it could mean that owners or drivers of many other vehicles would pay a daily penalty to drive within or into Greater Manchester. We need to work out the best solution that supports owners of commercial vehicles while satisfying the specific requirements set out by government.
“We’re particularly interested in getting feedback from businesses and sole traders. The proposed Clean Air Zone could affect them if they don’t use compliant vehicles and we want to hear about what level of financial support they think is needed for Greater Manchester businesses to upgrade to cleaner vehicles, so we can make the case to central government for the best possible package of funding.”
Once the conversation closes, the responses will be used to further develop the Greater Manchester Clean Air Plan. A statutory public consultation will then take place on detailed proposals later this year. A date for this will be confirmed once government has responded to the initial proposals, which were submitted in March.
Following public consultation, a final business case for the Clean Air Plan will be developed for local authorities to consider before finally being submitted to central government.
If the plan is approved by government, clean vehicle funding could be available for businesses in 2020, while a Clean Air Zone could be implemented from 2021.