Manchester calls for more CAZ funding as date slips

Greater Manchester has asked the government for additional money to support the upgrading and replacement of vehicles that will not comply with the region’s planned Clean Air Zone (CAZ).

It comes against a backdrop of news that implementation of the Greater Manchester CAZ will now not occur until 2022. The delay is owing to difficulties around holding a consultation during the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.

As part of its revised funding submission to the government, the region has asked ministers for £98m for a Clean Commercial Vehicle Fund. That will capture the upgrade of coaches and minibuses alongside other vehicle types.

The request for £98m is in addition to £16m being sought for a Clean Bus Fund. That will support the retrofit to Euro VI of many non-compliant members of the region’s existing bus fleet. Separate money beyond that is now being asked for to contribute to the replacement with electric models of the over 600 buses for which there are no accredited retrofit options.

The proposed Clean Commercial Vehicle Fund supplants an earlier £59m call in the Outline Business Case to Tackle Nitrogen Dioxide Exceedances at Roadside (OBC) for a Clean Freight Fund.

The latter also included provision for coach and minibus upgrades. The new sum “better reflects the needs of vehicles that are in scope of the CAZ,” says the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA).

In the earlier OBC, a call was made for £30m to establish the Clean Bus Fund. Under those plans, it would have contributed both to Euro VI retrofit costs and towards the purchase of “the cleanest buses, electric buses and electric bus charging infrastructure.”

In March, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Minister Rebecca Pow agreed to make available to Greater Manchester from the Clean Air Fund an initial £15.4m for bus retrofit, £4.6m for upgrading or replacing coaches and £2.1m for upgrading or replacing minibuses.

It is not yet clear how the sum available for coach or minibus upgrades or replacement will be affected should the call for £98m for a Clean Commercial Vehicle Fund in Greater Manchester be accepted by the government.

When introduced, the Greater Manchester CAZ will involve a daily charge of £100 for coaches and buses that do not comply. A penalty charge of £120 will further be levied for non-payment.

In April, it was revealed that all other planned CAZs in the UK will be introduced no earlier than January 2021. Full implementation of Low Emission Zones in Scotland is also ‘paused‘.