The residents and businesses of London have been benefitting from cleaner air from road users for quite some time now, as the Ultra Low Emission Zone was introduced back in April 2019 which sat on top of the already effective congestion charge. Both of these measures have reduced the amount of highly pollutant traffic while also generating revenue, but these measures have not been taken elsewhere in the country thus far. Well in Manchester that is looking likely to change in the not so distant future, with the introduction of their Clean Air Zone - a scheme which has been proposed in a number of cities across the country. The coronavirus pandemic has put on hold plans to introduce Clean Air Zones in Bristol and Leeds, but Transport for Greater Manchester is steaming ahead with their transition and £120 million of government funding has been made available to businesses to encourage a switch to Ultra Low Emission Vehicles.
The ‘CAZ’ is planned to be introduced by Spring 2022 and the government finances are intended to provide relief for around 30,000 owners and operators of HGVs, LGVs, Taxis, Private Hire vehicles, Coaches and Minibuses. When the plans are introduced, drivers of these non-compliant vehicles will face a daily charge to travel in Greater Manchester. Non-compliant van and minibus operators will be given until 2023 to upgrade to a compliant vehicle, so too will wheelchair carrying taxis/ private hires and Manchester registered coaches.
Director of Finance and corporate services at Transport for Greater Manchester, Steve Warrener, said: “Greater Manchester is committed to supporting vehicle owners, to make sure they can upgrade to cleaner vehicles ahead of the introduction of the proposed clean air zone.
“This includes creating a panel of approved vehicle finance providers who appreciate the importance of the clean air agenda and would seek to be involved through the provision of affordable vehicle finance utilising government-provided Clean Air funding.”
TfGM is now sourcing bids from vehicle financiers with the view of creating a large panel of lenders. These lenders will provide drivers with either a lump sum grant or a contribution toward vehicle finance to allow operators to upgrade to a compliant vehicle sooner rather than later. Applicants themselves will be able to choose whether they’d prefer the grant or the finance contribution.
All this comes as Manchester has consistently failed to bring down NO2 air pollution from road vehicles to meet legal limits. This latest incentive hopes to help Manchester achieve that goal by 2024 at the latest.