Greater Manchester Mayor and Leaders rally final views on Clean Air Zone proposals to help build the case for government funding
November 26th, 2020
• With just one week left to take part in the GM-wide Clean Air consultation, local politicians say feedback is crucial to make a water-tight government funding ask to reflect Covid conditions.
• Clean Air Zone key to build back cleaner and greener from the pandemic – cleaning up our air now and for future generations.
• Members of the public and the taxi and private hire trade urged to feedback on parallel consultation proposals that would help promote new customer and vehicle standards, and protect the trade from out of town competition.
With one week left to go, Greater Manchester’s Mayor and local authority leaders are urging businesses and residents to give their views on proposals for the biggest Clean Air Zone outside London and to help in pressing for crucial government support funding.
People are being asked for feedback on key elements of the Category C* charging Clean Air Zone (CAZ) – which government has instructed the Greater Manchester (GM) authorities to introduce to reduce nitrogen dioxide levels on local roads.
Politicians are highlighting that feedback from local businesses is crucial to ensure Greater Manchester can make a water-tight case for the right level of government funding support.
Government has committed £41m so far to the programme. But a number of the key parts of the £150m government funding** sought to help GM businesses upgrade to cleaner, compliant vehicles before the Zone is introduced from 2022, remain the subject of Government review. That includes funds towards black cab and van replacement costs, alongside a proposed business hardship fund for those most in need.
A consultation on proposed Minimum Licensing Standards for taxis and private hire vehicles licensed locally*** is running in parallel to offer as much certainty and clarity as possible for the trade on any proposed changes required to their vehicles.
Both eight-week long consultations end at 23.59hrs on Thursday 3 December. Thousands of people have engaged with the proposals online, but many may still need to complete their online questionnaire submission to make sure their views are heard.
Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “I want to reassure people that this consultation is absolutely not about introducing a congestion tax and anything which suggests otherwise, is misleading and incorrect.
“The Clean Air Zone charges only the most polluting buses, vans, taxis and lorries – private cars are exempt – and we are under government instruction to introduce one in Greater Manchester. This is about protecting our air now and for future generations and we need to ensure that our final plan reflects local need, particularly amongst businesses who have been hit hard by Covid 19.
“Armed with feedback from as many businesses as possible, we can make the strongest case to government for a comprehensive package of funding support and enable people to upgrade before the zone is introduced. With just one week to go, fill out the survey and help us get it right.”
Councillor Andrew Western, Green City-Region Lead, added: “This zone is about cleaning up our air – not making money. Government funding will enable people to move to cleaner, compliant vehicles and those who upgrade won’t need to pay a daily charge to drive in the zone.
“While we’ve been working with businesses for several years to develop these proposals, it’s now key that we get as much feedback as possible to get the final plans right and make the strongest possible case for funding to support Greater Manchester businesses.
“I know businesses have felt the impact of the pandemic hard, which is why it’s so important they take the time out now to give us their views. This is about your business and the long-term economic success of our city region.”
Transport for Greater Manchester is coordinating the Clean Air and Minimum Licensing Standards consultations on behalf of the 10 Greater Manchester local authorities. The findings from the consultation, along with additional research, will be used to inform future decisions on each aspect of the final plan.
To complete the consultation questionnaires, people can visit cleanairgm.com and gmtaxistandards.com. For support to respond to these consultations email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 0161 244 1100. Support for non-English speakers is available on 0161 244 1100.
* A Category C class Clean Air Zone includes non-compliant buses and coaches, Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs), Light Goods Vehicles (LGVs) or vans, minibuses, taxis and private hire vehicles.
** Greater Manchester leaders have called on Government to provide more than £150m in total in financial support for businesses affected by the Clean Air Zone. This includes:
• £98m for a Clean Commercial Vehicle Fund for vans, HGVs, coaches and minibuses.
• £25m for a Clean Bus Fund to support retrofit of the existing bus fleet. (Greater Manchester is also working with Government on additional funding for the replacement of vehicles that can’t be retrofitted with new, cleaner vehicles.)
• A £28m Clean Taxi Fund for taxi and private hire drivers and operators to switch to cleaner vehicles.
• A £10m Hardship fund – dedicated to small businesses and sole traders who could face additional financial concerns to help them switch to compliant vehicles.
*** Standards would cover drivers, operators and vehicles, and go further and greener than the government’s new standards for the sector by including a step-by-step pathway to reducing harmful emissions from taxis and private hire vehicles.
For drivers, the proposals include:
• Common standards on criminal record checks; medical examinations; a local knowledge test; English language proficiency; driver training; driving proficiency; and dress code.
For vehicles, the proposals include:
• Vehicle emissions; age; colour (black for taxi/hackney, white for PHV); livery (common Greater Manchester design with council logo incorporated); accessibility (all taxis to be wheelchair accessible); vehicle testing and design and licensing requirements; and CCTV.
For operators the proposals include:
• Basic criminal record checks for operators' staff; more stringent requirements in relation to booking records; and for operators to take more responsibility for the behaviour of their drivers.
For local authorities the proposals include:
• Developing a common enforcement approach and a framework to which licensing fees are set; and councillors to receive training before they hear applications.