Trade body RHA has called for the Greater Manchester Clean Air Zone (CAZ) to be vastly decreased in size and delayed for at least a year under review work agreed by Mayor Andy Burnham.
Mr Burnham and the city region’s clean air lead Cllr Andrew Western issued a joint statement on 6 January acknowledging public worries about the impact of the CAZ on operators of in-scope vehicles that do not comply with its requirements. They say they are “listening carefully” to those concerns.
No firm indication is given that implementation of the CAZ could be delayed. It is currently planned to start on 30 May, although non-compliant coaches and buses that enter the CAZ and which do not operate registered services are eligible for temporary exemptions until 1 June 2023.
However, the joint statement acknowledges that the charge for non-compliance will hurt some businesses. “We are committed to reducing air pollution in Greater Manchester but also to protecting the jobs and livelihoods of our residents,” it says. “We are listening carefully to concerns being expressed around the current situation and will make a decision shortly on our next steps.”
The two men also criticise the government for what they say is a failure to agree to requests for addition support “for those who find it hardest to make the change.” Mr Burnham and Cllr Western add that they have also warned ministers of “our ongoing concerns about the vehicle supply chain and the co-operation of National Highways.”
In response to the statement around review work, RHA has repeated its call for the CAZ to capture only the centre of Manchester, bordered by the Mancunian Way and the A635 and A665 roads. Currently the Zone is set to cover all Greater Manchester, although virtually all the Strategic Road Network will be exempt.
RHA says that the planned extent of the CAZ will be “highly damaging” for small businesses. The trade body adds that it has spent two years trying to convince the City Region’s leaders to change the scope of the Zone.
In a statement, Head of Policy – Environment and Regulation Chris Ashley notes that RHA has put forward alternative proposals “to achieve the same clean air outcomes” and that its favoured approach of limiting the CAZ to central Manchester would tackle “pollution hot spots.”
“We maintain our position that linking CAZ compliance across all 10 boroughs of [Greater] Manchester exclusively to the Euro VI standard is excessively damaging,” adds Mr Ashley. “To allow both businesses and the vehicle supply chain to recover from the pandemic, we also call for the CAZ to be delayed until no earlier than May 2023.”