The Government is being urged to provide clarity on financial support to help local businesses upgrade their fleets before the proposed introduction of a Clean Air Zone in Greater Manchester next year.
Although the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) submitted plans last year for a proposed Clean Air Zone from 2021 – including vans from 2023 onwards but not private cars – it says that nearly a year later the Government has still not confirmed the financial support that will be available to help business upgrade their vehicles.
While the proposals are based on a significant funding package being offered to businesses, the authorities says the only government funding committed so far has been £36m to take forward the proposals; and without confirmation on the funding, GMCA says it’s not in a position to submit the Full Business Case to government – effectively leaving the Clean Air Zone at an impasse.
With the new Environment Bill receiving its second reading in Parliament this week, Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “The Government has told councils to develop ambitious plans to tackle air quality. Our plan is ambitious but it needs a multi-million-pound financial support package to help local businesses, and requires the Government to not duck from its responsibilities. It needs to commit the funds to delivering this vital work and supporting companies across the region to move towards a more sustainable future.”
Councillor Andrew Western, Greater Manchester Green City-region lead, added: “As the Environment Bill continues to make progress in Parliament, our plans to improve clean air in the region have reached an impasse – it’s scandalous that businesses have been left in the dark.
“Poor air quality damages the health of people living, working and travelling in Greater Manchester and early exposure to polluted air can cause a lifetime of ill-health.
“In order to effectively tackle this issue, we need the Government to work in partnership with us and provide a detailed financial commitment, so we can work effectively with our communities to prepare for the changes.”
Already, the local authorities have launched an awareness campaign encouraging the public to do their bit to improve air quality. The campaign also aims to encourage people to keep up to date on how the region-wide Clean Air Plan proposals might affect them and what people can do to help clean up Greater Manchester’s air; for more details, click here.