Manchester’s Clean Air plans to be reviewed
You’ve probably been aware of Clean Air Zones (CAZ) for a while now, given they’ve been on the national agenda for quite some time. They’re basically specific areas dotted around the UK which are subject to specific measures, designed to improve the quality of the air. (The Ultra Low Emissions Zone in London is the most notable example.)
2022 is set to be the year we see the introduction of more of these zones in other major cities. Manchester is one such city, but recently plans to implement its new Clean Air Zone have been put on hold, pending a review in the spring. So, whether you’re a fleet manager looking to expand your fleet with daily van hire, or just you’re just looking for private vehicle hire, here’s what you’ll need to know before driving through Manchester.
A bit of background knowledge
Air pollution has been a topic of discussion amongst the UK hierarchy for a while now. In the search for an ever greener solution to this problem, the Supreme Court ordered that the government take immediate action to tackle the rising levels of pollution back in 2015. This forced the government into ordering regional authorities to introduce Clean Air Zones, with major cities like Bath and Birmingham amongst some of the first to implement these measures.
The general aim is quite simple - Clean Air Zones are intended to deter people from driving more polluting vehicles by levying additional charges against them when driving through the zones. The main idea is to get more people out walking or cycling if possible. Their secondary aim is to encourage drivers and fleet managers alike to switch to greener alternatives to petrol and diesel cars (electric vehicles being the obvious one).
Manchester’s Clean Air Zone is aiming to be England’s biggest one yet, encompassing 10 local authorities spread across Greater Manchester (Bolton, Bury, Oldham, Rochdale, Stockport, Wigan and Tameside, to name a few). These charges won’t be applicable to private cars (at least for now), but they will be to coaches, buses, and taxis.
So why all the controversy?
The Clean Air Zones have come under fire because of the projected impact they’ll have on local businesses, many of which are still suffering from the impact of the ongoing Covid 19 pandemic. Andy Burnham, the mayor of Greater Manchester, said that the impact of the planned CAZ is likely to impact “those who will find it hardest to make the change”, including sole traders and the self employed. As it stands, from 30 May, some vehicles could be charged between £7.50 and £60 daily under the current Clean Air Zone plan.
On the flip side, the government has provided eligible drivers with £120 million in aid to help them switch to compliant vehicles. Recipients of this grant include small businesses, the voluntary sectors and HGV owners.
But, many say that it simply isn’t enough. For example, there are 18,000 taxi drivers in Greater Manchester, and industry experts predict that many of them will find it extremely difficult to make the switch. The ongoing pandemic isn’t helping things either, causing a global microchip shortage that’s causing the price of new cars to shoot up. This means that people are struggling to make the switch to more compliant vehicles.
So what next?
Many of those that are unhappy with Manchester’s Clean Air Zone plans have been staging their own demonstrations, like the ‘go slow’ protest that took place on the M60. But the Greater Manchester authorities have been told they have to comply with the planned changes by 2024 at the very latest. Mr Burnham has acknowledged that since these measures have been imposed by the Supreme Court, there’s nothing that he nor the UK government can do about them. But, they have been able to demand a review of the proposed plans which is where we stand on the matter at present.
With the review being pushed back to spring, it’s likely that regardless of the outcome, Clean Air Zones are here to stay. Here at Intack, we understand the effect that emissions standards have on your decision when choosing a vehicle, which is why we take care to offer a wide range of vehicles - allowing you the freedom to balance the costs of each one, and the requirements of the Clean Air Zones that may be covering your area of operations. And of course, picking a vehicle specifically for its low emissions reduces the chances you’ll get charged by multiple Clean Air Zones on the way to your destination!
If you’ve got any more questions or you need a bit of clarification, you can find more answers over on our FAQs page. Or if you’re ready to get started, you can browse the best car hire deals right here on our site at Intack Self Drive, or give us a call on 01254 57811!
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