Manchester Clean Air Zone to be reviewed in May

You’ve probably been aware of the planned Clean Air Zones (CAZ) in Manchester for a while now. It’s basically a specific area in the city that’s subject to specific measures that are designed to improve the quality of the air, and the health of the people within their boundaries. A couple of these are already dotted around the UK – the Ultra Low Emissions Zone in London being the most notable example. Joining cities like Bath and Bristol, this year Manchester was scheduled to become a new site for a CAZ, but recent plans to implement it were been put on hold, pending a review in May due to concerns over the effect these new Clean Air Zones would have on local businesses.

A light history lesson

Air pollution has been a prominent issue for UK lawmakers for a long time now, and the Supreme Court ordered the government take immediate action to tackle the rising levels of pollution in the UK back in 2015. This forced the government into ordering regional authorities to introduce Clean Air Zones, as a green solution to fight CO2 hotspots in major cities.

The general idea is this – Clean Air Zones are meant to deter people from driving more polluting vehicles by levying additional charges against them when driving through a CAZ. The idea is to get more people out walking or cycling if possible. The secondary aim is to encourage drivers and vehicle providers alike to switch to greener alternatives to petrol and diesel cars (electric vehicles being the obvious one).

Manchester’s Clean Air Zone was aiming to be England’s biggest yet, encompassing 10 local authorities spread across Greater Manchester (Bolton, Bury, Oldham, Rochdale, Stockport, Wigan and Tameside, being a few). The plan was that these charges wouldn’t be applicable to private cars, but they would be to commercial vehicles, including HGVs, coaches, buses, and taxis.

What’s with all the controversy?

The CAZ systems have come under fire because of the projected impact they’re likely to have on local businesses, many of which are still being hit hard by the impact of the ongoing Covid 19 pandemic. Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, said that the impact of the planned CAZ is likely to affect “those who will find it hardest to make the change”, including sole traders and the self employed. If things aren’t changed, from 30 May 2022, some vehicles could be getting charged between £7.50 and £60 daily under the current Clean Air Zone plan.

The government has provided eligible drivers with £120 million in aid to help them switch to compliant vehicles as a means of combatting the severe backlash. These will be made available to small businesses, the voluntary sectors and HGV owners.

But many are complaining that it simply isn’t enough. For example, there are 18,000 taxi drivers in Greater Manchester, and experts believe that many of them will find it extremely difficult to switch to greener vehicle alternatives. The ongoing pandemic isn’t helping things either, causing a global microchip shortage that’s causing the price of new cars to shoot up, adding to the reasons why so many people are refusing to go along with the plans.

Now what?

Though there’s still plenty of (understandable) dismay around the move, the Greater Manchester authorities have been told they have to comply with the planned changes by 2024 at the very latest, with Mr Burnham acknowledging that since these measures have been imposed by the Supreme Court, there’s nothing that he and the government can do about it. They have however, managed to demand a review of the proposed plans, so that they can look for opportunities to limit their most detrimental impacts on business owners.

With the review being pushed back to May, it’s unlikely that the Clean Air Zones are going anywhere. Regardless of the outcome though, your vehicle safety will still be our priority here at Vision Techniques. Whether you’re sticking with petrol and diesel, or switching to electrically powered powered alternatives, with our innovative technology your vehicles are in safe hands. If you’d like to discover more about what our StopSafe tech can do for you, or you’re interested in any of the other vehicle safety products we offer, feel free to browse our products here on our site, or alternatively give us a call on 01254 679 717, and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you have!