Oldham Council takes major step forward by approving Greater Manchester Clean Air Plan

Oldham Council’s cabinet has now approved Greater Manchester’s final Clean Air Plan to tackle the problem of air pollution on local roads

All ten Greater Manchester (GM) councils are considering the GM Clean Air Plan at meetings taking place throughout July, after the plan was endorsed by the ten GM local authority leaders at a GMCA meeting in June.

The Clean Air Plan includes proposals for a GM-wide Clean Air Zone, which is anticipated to launch on 30 May 2022, alongside more than £120m government funding to support local businesses upgrade to cleaner, compliant vehicles so they can travel in the Zone without incurring a daily charge.

Applications for funding support will open from November this year. This will be essential to support impacted vehicle owners to upgrade, while facing the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Councillor Abdul Jabbar, Deputy Leader of Oldham Council and Cabinet Member for Finance and Low Carbon, said: “Oldham Council’s aim is to have a cleaner and greener borough, which is why we have approved Greater Manchester’s Clean Air Plan.

“Air pollution contributes to more than 1,200 deaths per year across the city-region so it would wrong if we just sat back and didn’t do anything to help protect the health of the borough’s residents.

“The CAZ is not a congestion charge – its introduction will help to bring damaging nitrogen dioxide emissions within legal limits by 2024, while at the same time supporting our recovery from the pandemic and reducing pollution.”

While the COVID-19 pandemic led to brief air quality improvements, modelling shows it is not expected to lead to long-term reductions in roadside pollution without implementing a Clean Air Zone.

The ten GM councils are under direction from government to introduce a category C* charging Clean Air Zone – including commercial and passenger vehicles but not private cars – to secure compliance with NO2 legal limits on local roads in the shortest possible time, and by 2024 at the latest.

Following feedback from more than 4,000 people during an eight-week consultation on the proposals held last year, the Clean Air Plan has been updated to take into account the impact of COVID-19, particularly on small businesses.

In light of that feedback the final plan gives small businesses, GM-licensed hackney cab and private hire vehicle (PHV) owners and LGV owners more time, money and options to upgrade.

This includes temporary exemptions for an additional year (until 31 May 2023) for all hackney cabs and PHVs licensed by a GM district. Vans, minibuses, GM-registered coaches and wheelchair-accessible taxis were already exempt from daily charges until 2023.

Increased funding support per vehicle is also available for HGVs, coaches, vans, and GM-licensed hackney cabs and PHVs. Vans can now access up to £4.5k towards the replacement of a vehicle – £1k more than initially proposed – and GM hackney cabs can get up to £10k. HGVs can now get up to £12k towards replacement, nearly three times more than was initially offered, and coaches are now eligible for £32k.

The funding will help eligible non-compliant vehicle owners to upgrade to cleaner non-compliant  vehicles and not have to pay a daily charge, with the funding expected to be available from November. This includes:

  • Clean Commercial Vehicle Fund: £87.9m for vans, HGVs, coaches and minibuses.
  • Clean Taxi Fund: £21.4m for GM-licensed taxi and private hire vehicle owners, drivers and operators to switch to cleaner vehicles.
  • Bus Retrofit Fund: £14.7 million to retrofit non-compliant buses running services in GM
  • Bus Replacement Fund: £3.2 million to support replacement of non-compliant buses that can’t be retrofitted

Feedback from last year’s public consultation highlighted that motorhomes can be classified in more than one way by the DVLA. As a result, subject to all ten local authorities approving the Clean Air Plan, a consultation will be held for six weeks from 1 September on the inclusion of motorhomes classified as MSP1 in the GM Clean Air Zone. At the same time, a consultation would also be held on a minor change to the boundary to include the A575 and A580 at Worsley, following consultation feedback.

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