Tax to lower dangerous emissions - How will Manchester play fair on clean air?
- Central government 'clean air tax' will be put in place to reduce harmful vehicle emissions
- Greater Manchester were rejected for funding to aid transition
- Council fear jobs and small businesses will be at risk
The Mayor of Manchester has hit out at central government for rejecting a funding application to help the city adapt to a Clean Air Zone.
Earlier this year, Greater Manchester submitted detailed plans for a Clean Air Zone covering all 10 boroughs and requested partnership funding to help taxi firms and small businesses switch to cleaner vehicles.
The government has already provided funding to London so residents and businesses are not simply priced out of work, but has rejected the funding for Greater Manchester.
Greater Manchester had requested £116m of clean vehicle funding to help local businesses upgrade to clean vehicles and thereby avoid any penalty for travelling through the Clean Air Zone. This would include funds to upgrade vans, HGVs, buses, coaches and taxis in the city.
The Government, after taking three months to respond, have not committed to any funding to support these upgrades. Instead it has offered £36m ring-fenced to create a network of cameras to issue fines to those in breach.
Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham and Greater Manchester Green City-region lead, Councillor Andrew Western, are calling for an urgent meeting with the Secretary of State for the Environment.
Andy Burnham said: "Taxi drivers in the city have been calling on us to ‘play fair on clean air’. We hear that call and want to help people switch. We don’t want to see a single job or business threatened by the process of cleaning up our air. But we can’t guarantee this without help from the Government."
'Play fair for clean air' posters have been seen in taxis around the city, especially in black cabs, where drivers fear their jobs will be threatened.
Andrew Western said: "Poor air quality is the largest environmental public health issue facing the UK, with air pollution estimated to contribute to the equivalent of 1,200 deaths in Greater Manchester each year.
"Our proposals are clearly designed to take the dirtiest vehicles off our streets as quickly as possible. We don’t want people who have no choice but to stick with their polluting vehicle in the short term paying a daily penalty. But, by demanding that Greater Manchester bring forward the implementation of a Clean Air Zone affecting non-compliant vans by two years, that’s exactly what the ministerial instruction would do. It’s counter-productive."