A range of vehicles will have to pay a daily fee to drive within the Greater Manchester Clean Air Zone, which will operate across the ten council areas in the conurbation.
Although private cars will be exempt, the owners of vehicles including vans, HGVs, taxis and buses will have to make the payments if their motors do not meet certain emission standards designed to improve air quality. The daily rate will be set at £7.50 for taxis, £10 for vans and £60 for lorries, buses and coaches.
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The start date for the charge varies according to the classification of vehicle - the majority will have to pay up from 30th May this year, but vans and minibuses will not be covered until 1st June, 2023.
However, while some Greater Manchester-based businesses will be eligible for grants towards the cost of replacing or retrofitting their vehicles so that they do not have to pay the levy, no such help is expected to be on offer for firms located just outside the zone - even if their work regularly causes them to enter it.
Kim Snape, Lancashire county councillor for Chorley Rural East, said that companies in her corner of the county had been “forgotten”.
“Nobody is objecting to the concept of the Clean Air Zone, but a lot of businesses in this area are reliant on crossing over into Greater Manchester. The charge could cost them thousands each year and yet they won't be eligible for any financial support.
“We all want clean air - however, these proposals really are a great big mess,” County Cllr Snape said.
The government has made £120m available to fund financial support packages, with grants on offer of up to £12,000 for replacement of the largest HGVs and £4,500 for vans.
However, not a penny from that pot has been reserved for businesses that lie just beyond Greater Manchester’s borders in Chorley or other Lancashire districts whose fringes sit on the dividing line, such as West Lancashire, Blackburn with Darwen and Rossendale.
Annette Wilde, whose family-run ventilation firm J Vent has operated from a base in Heath Charnock for a decade, says that the new charge could hit border businesses like hers hard.
“We do a lot of work in Manchester and several of our suppliers are based there.
“One of our two vans is compliant [with the emissions levels], but the other isn't. Not being eligible for funding to replace it puts us at a disadvantage compared to businesses based in Greater Manchester itself - it’s not a level playing field.
“If we travel over the border six days a week, that’s £60 [in additional costs] - and we are a small business, we’ve not got loads of cash that we can just chuck at things like this.
“I've been told that if there is any money left over [from the support fund], they would then look at opening claims up [to firms outside Greater Manchester]. But as a business you can't rely on that - so at this stage, we’re resigned to not getting any help.
“And if we sell our van, who’s going to buy it, unless we go and sell it in the middle of Wales or somewhere? Nobody around here is going to want it,” Annette added.
Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham last week announced that the Clean Air Zone plan would be reviewed before implementation amid a backlash from businesses within the city region. He said that the scheme must be accompanied by “a fair package of financial support” and expressed concern that ministers had “so far failed to agree to our request for additional support for those who will find it hardest to make the change”.
However, Cllr June Molyneaux, Chorley borough councillor for the Adlington and Anderton ward, called on those putting the plan together to turn their attention to the neighbouring areas that will be affected by the clean air charge.
“If this continues to go ahead, then Andy Burnham and the government need to get their heads together fast and come up with a plan of urgent support for the businesses that are going to be impacted by this from outside of Greater Manchester in places like Chorley.
“One business-owner informed us that he had been advised that there is currently a year waiting time for him to be able to take delivery of a new [compliant] vehicle. What is he supposed to do?”
Cllr Molyneaux added that there was “lots of confusion” about the Clean Air Zone and condemned the fact that there had been no attempt to raise awareness of it in Lancashire - beyond the signs that have been appeared on the border between the county and Greater Manchester
“Very few people know about it and a lot of residents [wrongly] think it involves private cars,” she said.
When approached for comment on the issue, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority referred the request to Transport for Greater Manchester, which said that it had nothing to add to the mayor's latest statement at this stage.
The Department for Transport did not respond to a request for comment.
However, following Andy Burnham’s announcement of a review last week, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: “Air pollution is a public health risk, particularly to the most vulnerable. At a national level, it has reduced significantly since 2010, but we know there is more to do.”
WHO PAYS WHAT AND WHEN?
You will pay a £10 daily charge to travel in the zone from 1st June, 2023 if:
***You own a panel or box van, car-derived van, pickup, flatbed truck, motorised horsebox (up to 3.5t when carrying a load), or minibus (between eight and 16 passenger seats);
***It has a Euro 5 or earlier diesel engine (typically registered before 2016);
***It has a Euro 3 or earlier petrol engine (typically registered before 2005).
Taxis and private hire vehicles
Non-compliant taxis and private hire vehicles licensed outside Greater Manchester and vehicles licensed in Greater Manchester after 3rd December, 2020 will pay the daily charge from 30th May, 2022.
Taxis and private hire vehicles licensed in Greater Manchester before or on 3rd December, 2020 will pay the daily charge from 1st June, 2023.
You will need to pay a £10 daily charge to travel in the zone if your taxi or private hire vehicle has a:
***Euro 5 or earlier diesel engine (typically registered before 2016);
***Euro 3 or earlier petrol engine (typically registered before 2005).
You will pay a £60 daily charge to travel in the zone from 30th May, 2022 if:
***You own an N2 or N3 category vehicle – e.g. an articulated or rigid HGV, flatbed lorry, two-axle lorry, motorcaravan with an HGV tax classification (over 3.5t) or motorised horsebox (over 3.5t);
***It has a Euro V or earlier diesel engine (typically registered before 2013).
Buses and coaches
You will need to pay a £60 daily charge to travel in the zone from 30th May, 2022 if:
***You own a bus or coach with nine or more passenger seats;
***It has a Euro V or earlier diesel engine.
Owners of coaches and buses not used on a registered bus service will be able to apply for a temporary exemption from the daily Clean Air Zone charge until 1st June, 2023.
Motorhomes and campervans
Motorcaravans (also known as motorhomes or campervans) with Euro 6 or cleaner emission standards are compliant and will not be charged to drive in the Clean Air Zone.
Non-compliant vehicles classified as N1 or N2 – with a body type of ‘motorcaravan’ – will be charged to travel in the Clean Air Zone as follows:
***N1 (3.5t and under) with a tax class of LGV: If your motorcaravan has a Euro 5 or earlier diesel engine (typically registered before 2016) or a Euro 3 or earlier petrol engine (typically registered before 2005) it will automatically qualify for a temporary exemption until 1 June 2023, with a daily charge of £10 from that date;
***N2 (over 3.5t) with a tax class of HGV: If your motorcaravan has a Euro V (5) diesel engine or earlier (typically registered before 2013) it will be subject to a daily charge of £60 per day from 30 May 2022;
***N2 (over 3.5t) with a tax class of private HGV: If your motorcaravan has a Euro V (5) engine or earlier it will be eligible for a discount on the daily charge from £60 to £10, payable from 30 May 2022;
***Blank on V5C document: Daily charges will apply as above, depending on the tax class of your vehicle – LGV, private HGV or HGV.
Source: Clean Air Greater Manchester website