Greater Manchester calls for pause on Clean Air Zone

Greater Manchester calls for pause on Clean Air Zone

Greater Manchester has made a request to the government to pause the Clean Air Zone (CAZ) and related funding due to the delay in getting hold of new vehicles.

The Category C CAZ is set to launch on 30 May 2022 and will operate 24/7, but concerns have been expressed about the viability of the zone.

That’s because the global semiconductor shortage has increased the lead time on new vehicles significantly, meaning that fleets are finding it difficult to obtain new vehicles in time for the launch of the CAZ.

So, what’s the current plan?

The CAZ will launch on 30 May in Greater Manchester, with non-compliant coaches and HGVs being charged £60 to enter the zone.

Taxis and private hire vehicles will be charged £7.50, although vehicles licensed in Greater Manchester will be allowed an exemption until 31 May 2023.

Older vans and minibuses will also receive an exemption until 31 May 2023, and charges will be based on vehicles meeting emission standards.

Greater Manchester agreed to £120 million in government funding last year to help fleets upgrade to compliant, lower-emissions vehicles, with applications for HGVs opening in November 2021.

The funding available includes:

  • £3.2 million Bus Replacement Fund to support the replacement of non-compliant buses that can’t be retrofitted
  • £14.7 million in the Bus Retrofit Fund for non-compliant buses in Greater Manchester to be retrofitted
  • £21.4 million via the Clean Taxi Fund for taxis licenced in Greater Manchester and private hire vehicle owners, drivers, and operators to switch to cleaner vehicles
  • £87.9 million through the Clean Commercial Vehicle Fund for vans, HGVs, coaches, and minibuses

What do the clean air zones mean?

Local councils in the UK are introducing CAZ’s to ensure that they are compliant with NO2 legal limits, with the government encouraging local authorities to introduce the low emission zones.

Councils have been instructed to achieve the NO2 targets by 2024 by charging non-compliant commercial and passenger vehicles that drive within the zones.

Each zone operates slightly differently, with Manchester’s CAZ making private cars exempt, which is in contrast to Birmingham’s, which is charging older private cars that aren’t compliant.

However, Great Manchester is now calling on the government for a delay in the funding applications and the implementation of the CAZ, due to delays in accessing compliant vehicles.

What does the £120 million funding mean?

The funding means that fleet operators and commercial vehicle owners can access up to £4,500 per vehicle towards its replacement, which is significantly higher than the initially proposed £3,500.

Greater Manchester Hackney Cabs are eligible for up to £10,000 in grant funding, while HGVs can receive up to £12,000 towards replacement, and coaches will be eligible for £32,000 per vehicle.

Taxi and private hire cab owners registered in Greater Manchester, as well as light goods vehicle (LGV) operators, are set to be given more leeway in upgrading too.

Are you prepared for the introduction of Clean Air Zones? Do you know if any vehicles in your fleet will be liable for charges? Are you having trouble accessing new, low or zero-emissions vehicles? Let us know in the comments below.