Opposition to 'Clean Air Zone' grows with almost 35,000 signing online petition

Date published: 11 January 2022

An online petition to stop a 'Clean Air Zone' being introduced across Greater Manchester has been signed by almost 35,000 people.

The Clean Air Zone (CAZ) is expected to be introduced in May of this year, and covers all the boroughs in the Greater Manchester area, including Oldham.

Oldham Council and the other nine Greater Manchester local authorities are under direction from government to introduce a category C charging Clean Air Zone, to meet nitrogen dioxide (NO2) legal limits on local roads in the shortest possible time, and by 2024 at the latest.

Category C includes non-compliant buses and coaches, heavy goods vehicles, light goods vehicles or vans, minibuses, taxis and private hire vehicles.

Hackney cabs and private hire vehicles will be charged £7.50 per day and vans and minibuses will see a £10 charge.

Large non-compliant vehicles like coaches, buses and heavy goods vehicles will pay the daily charge of £60 a day.

Private cars, motorbikes and mopeds are not affected.

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham
Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham

In response to the petition, Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, responded on Twitter.

He wrote: "Given the number of names on this petition has gone over 10k, I thought I owed everyone who has signed it the courtesy of a reply.

"Calling this ‘Andy Burnham’s Clean Air Charge’ implies two things: That I instigated it; That I have the legal power to stop it.

"Neither is true.

"The Government initiated the process which led to this and only they have the power to stop it or delay it.

"This said, even the Government would struggle to scrap it. In 2015, the Supreme Court ruled it had broken the law by failing to protect people from polluted air. And urgent action must be taken

"This led to the Government placing legal instructions on local councils.

"One criticism of the GM scheme is its size. It’s true this is a local decision. In effect, our councils had little choice.

"The alternative - a patchwork of local zones across 10 boroughs - would be unworkable. Boundaries would constantly change as pollution was transferred."

Mr Burnham said the government "needs to do more" to support businesses who had also been affected by the pandemic.

Taxi drivers in particular have spoken about their concerns about the charges and fear they could be driven off the road as a result of the fees.

Paul Delve, who organised the petition says the fees are undemocratic: "Can you remember being asked by him or anyone in Greater Manchester if you wanted this? We were not! What sort of democracy is that?"

Yesterday, around 200 people attended a rally against the introduction of the Clean Air Zone.

Robert Downes from the Federation of Small Businesses

Robert Downes, from the Federation of Small Businesses, has been lobbying for the tax to be pushed back as business recovers from the Covid pandemic.

"I've never seen a policy issue explode quite like I have witnessed today around the Greater Manchester clean air zone.

"Businesses are hopping mad - some very, very angry people out there."

Support is being provided for vehicle financing before the zone comes into effect on 30 May 2022.

Vehicle owners can answer a series of questions at cleanairgm.com/prepare to find out whether they will need to pay a charge to drive in the Clean Air Zone, if they might be eligible for an exemption or funding support, and further vehicle-specific information regarding their options and timescales.

The scheme is set to be England’s biggest CAZ, spanning the 10 local authority areas across Greater Manchester.  Clean Air Zones are also expected to be introduced in city areas across the UK including Edinburgh, Bristol, Newcastle and Glasgow.

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