Greater Manchester has today published its final clean air plan to kick-start the city region’s green revolution, helping to tackle the problem of air pollution, which contributes towards at least 1,200 deaths per year in the city-region.
Greater Manchester has secured over £120m in government funding to support local businesses upgrade to cleaner, compliant vehicles so they can travel in a GM-wide Clean Air Zone without incurring a daily charge.
Applications for funding support will open from November this year. This will be essential to support impacted vehicle owners to upgrade, while facing the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In light of feedback following last year’s eight-week consultation on the plans and the impact of COVID-19, particularly on small businesses, GM-registered taxi/private hire owners and LGV owners will be given more time, money and options to upgrade.
This includes temporary exemptions for an additional year (until 31 May 2023) for all hackney and private hire vehicles (PHV) licensed by a GM District. Vans, minibuses, GM-registered coaches and wheelchair-accessible taxis were already exempt from daily charges until 2023.
Following consultation and protracted negotiations with government, GM has increased funding support per vehicle for HGVs, coaches, vans, GM Hackney cabs and PHVs. Vans can now access up to £4.5k towards the replacement of a vehicle – £1k more than initially proposed – and GM Hackney Cabs can get up to £10k.
HGVs can now get up to £12k towards replacement, nearly three times more than was initially offered, and coaches are now eligible for £32k.
The city region also today announced that bike-share company Beryl has been selected as the delivery partner to design, install and operate a 24/7, public cycle hire scheme made up of an initial 1,500 bikes and e-bikes at more than 200 new cycle hire docking stations across Manchester, Trafford and Salford.
Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “Greater Manchester were the pioneers of the industrial revolution, now we are leading a green revolution, backed with over £120 million that we’ve secured to hand over to businesses to support making their vehicles compliant.
“We listened hard to what business owners wanted and, as a result, taxi drivers are being given more time, more funding and more options. This is part of our wider commitment to put GM-licensed hackney and private hire drivers first, and to lobby government to give us the powers to ensure that only locally licensed drivers are able to operate here.
“The fact is that air pollution is not a problem that is going to go away on its own. Not only has our plan been directed by national government, we’ve taken this seriously and fought to get a plan which has the right funding support for residents and to protect those most vulnerable as well as our trade and businesses. This plan will also have major health and wellbeing benefits for people living near motorways or major roads as there will be less polluting vehicles and HGVs using them.
“Our Clean Air Zone is only one piece of the jigsaw. We’re also fully integrating our public transport system – the Bee Network – and building the UK’s largest cycling and walking network. Today I am also very pleased to announce that urban bike share company Beryl has been named as our delivery partner for cycle hire, with the first bikes going on the ground later this year. Our cycle hire will be one of the largest docked systems outside London and I cannot wait to use the new bikes myself as a way to get from A to B. We’re making huge strides towards our plans to build back greener and be carbon neutral by 2038.”
Cllr Andrew Western, Greater Manchester lead for Clean Air, said: “We want Greater Manchester to be a healthy, sustainable and happy place to grow up, get on and get old and we can’t afford to be complacent about this globally significant issue.
“Over the past year, we’ve rightly focused on supporting our people and our businesses through the terrible impacts of the pandemic. As we now look to recover, and after considering the impact of COVID-19, we want to continue helping those most affected, including small businesses and taxi drivers, by giving them more time as we look to build back better and greener with certainty.”
Chris Boardman, Greater Manchester’s Transport Commissioner, added: “Today is a major milestone for the city-region – not only do we have a solid plan to make vehicles on our roads cleaner, we’ll soon be bringing cycle hire to our streets – providing a healthy, convenient, non-polluting transport option for tens of thousands of people. Together with our plans for hundreds of miles of cycling and walking routes by 2024, we are building a truly world-leading sustainable transport system.”
Leaders from all 10 GM local authorities will be asked to endorse the city-region’s Clean Air Plan – which includes the launch of a GM-wide Clean Air Zone on 30 May 2022 – at the next Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) meeting on 25 June 2021. This will be followed by individual council meetings.