As we approach tomorrow’s deadline for the Clean Air Zone consultation (Thursday 3rd December 2020), Councillor Keith Idden clarifies the potential risks to Lancashire businesses who travel within Greater Manchester’s boundaries. You can read his letter to the Lancashire Chambers of Commerce below.

Dear Sirs,

I am writing to you to draw your attention to the Greater Manchester Clean Air Zone consultation. Central Government have directed Greater Manchester (GM) to implement a countywide Category C Clean Air Zone (CAZ) aimed at tackling Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) exceedances in the shortest time possible.

The proposed boundary of the CAZ largely follows the GM administrative boundary, with the Strategic Road Network and sections of the A555 excluded. This is to be enforced using ANPR cameras and will be in operation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days per year. The proposals will implement a daily charge for buses & coaches (£60), hackney carriages/private hire vehicles (£7.50), HGVs (£60) and vans (£10). Note that privately owned vehicles are exempt.

The CAZ is to be introduced in spring 2022 and it is anticipated that it will remain in full operation until at least the second half of 2026. There will be temporary exemptions for some vehicle types until 31st December 2022.

Four support funds are proposed to encourage a switch to compliant vehicles. A ‘Clean Commercial Fund’, ‘Clean Taxi Fund’, ‘Clean Bus Fund’ and finally a ‘Hardship Fund’ for the most economically vulnerable. These will be supported by a vehicle finance scheme, and schemes encouraging taxis to go electric. All grants and support schemes are only for businesses with a registered address in GM, and none of the support options have full funding confirmed by central government to date.

I would like to highlight that these financial support options are only available for businesses registered in GM, thus businesses with their registered address in Lancashire that regularly travel into GM using HGVs, vans, buses or taxis will be financially impacted by these proposals.

The county-wide approach also includes large areas of GM with no air quality issues, meaning Lancashire businesses will be penalized for travelling into NO2-compliant areas. While this approach may provide the fastest route to compliance on NO2 concentrations overall, the potential negative impact on local businesses wishing to travel into NO2-compliant areas is of concern.

The high daily charges could be a significant barrier to those businesses who are unable to afford to upgrade their vehicle fleet before the spring 2022 deadline. While multiple financial assistance funds are proposed to aid the upgrade of vehicle fleets belonging to businesses registered to the GM area, none of the Lancashire-registered businesses which travel regularly into GM will be eligible for support. This could leave several of our local businesses with very few adaptation options.

I would therefore be grateful if you could draw the attention of your members to this matter, and would encourage your engagement with the consultation.

Yours faithfully

County Councillor Keith Iddon

Deputy Leader of Lancashire County Council
Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport

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