Manchester’s air quality measure a burden to business

Tunbridge Wells, UK: The planned charging Clean Air Zone in Greater Manchester will hurt local business, warns the Freight Transport Association.

Manchester should follow the example of cities such as Nottingham and Leeds, rather than risk the livelihoods of many small businesses, the association says.

The proposals for the Zone, reaffirmed this week by the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham and the Greater Manchester Green City-Region lead, Alex Ganotis, would also fail to provide the most effective long-term solution to air quality improvement, according to Malcolm Bingham, head of policy for the North of England, Freight Transport Association.

“The logistics sector is fully committed to reducing vehicle emissions wherever possible and acknowledges the role the industry must play in improving the air quality of our cities,” Bingham says.“Yet it is essential that an air quality scheme for Greater Manchester is developed with the needs of businesses the serve the area in mind.

“A charging CAZ [clean air zone] of this scale would cause operating costs for some small businesses to soar, unfairly penalising the hard-working companies and individuals that keep Greater Manchester’s economy thriving, while ignoring other contributors to emissions levels across the city.”
 
From 2021, the zone would impose a charge on any bus, HGV, taxi, minibus, or private hire vehicle entering the proposed zone which does not meet the highest environmental standards. It would be the largest zone in the UK outside of London.
 
Greater Manchester is one of several cities mandated by the government to consider a clean air zone to improve air quality. Clane air zones are not the only method available to drive air quality improvements, Bingham says. “Nottingham City Council successfully presented its case to Defra that other solutions can deliver a better outcome in a quicker time frame, without damaging the local economy. The truth is CAZs bring no long-term air quality benefit, as all the vehicles operating in Manchester will reach this standard in a few years without it.  Councils would be better placed to concentrate on traffic management and encourage the uptake of ultra-low emission vehicles.
 
“If Manchester feels it must implement a CAZ, it should scale the CAZ back to mitigate the very worst economic damage by, for example, excluding key industrial areas in the short-term, like Leeds. FTA is calling upon Manchester to follow suit, and for the local councils to carefully evaluate whether a charging CAZ, covering such a large area, truly is the best option for them.
 
Manchester’s proposed CAZ would not apply to private cars registered in Greater Manchester as, according to Burnham, 80% are already compliant.

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