Greater Manchester has today unveiled its vision to accelerate the city-region’s 2038 zero carbon ambitions, build a greener economy and deliver a long term plan for development.
Later this year, businesses, residents and elected councillors across Greater Manchester will have the chance to input on Greater Manchester’s Plan for Homes, Jobs and the Environment, the Spatial Framework, as well as key elements of the Clean Air Zone and to set minimum standards for taxis and private hire vehicles licensed in the city-region.
At this month’s meeting of Greater Manchester leaders, the timetable for the final stage of consultation on the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework will be set out. The wide-ranging Plan for Jobs, Homes and the Environment has been shaped by two previous rounds of consultation in which thousands of people had their say.
The impact of COVID is being taken into account as far as is possible within the updated version and the latest evidence around viability and infrastructure delivery will be included. If approved by Greater Manchester leaders, the plan will be taken to each Council for approval and residents will then be asked if they believe the plan is ready to be submitted to Government.
Greater Manchester leaders have decided to press ahead with the much delayed Spatial Framework process now given the threat of unplanned development and risk to the greenbelt if the city-region does not have a long term plan.
The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted more than ever the importance of securing Greater Manchester’s long-term ambition to create a green and prosperous city-region. The Clean Air Plan, Spatial Framework and Minimum Licensing Standards plans form part of this vision, looking to offer a better quality of life for everyone living and working in the city-region.
Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “Greater Manchester has always been a place of progressive thinking, where we work together to achieve our potential. We are now taking action to deliver real clarity about where we are going as we emerge from this crisis.
“We want quality homes, quality jobs, and space that allows us all to live happier, healthier lives. We have an unprecedented opportunity to build back cleaner, greener and better in Greater Manchester following the coronavirus pandemic, and we want this future to be shaped by the people who live and work here.
“These plans will allow us to progress our plans to achieve our long-term ambitions, working together across our 10 local councils, to build a strong recovery while reducing inequalities.”
Greater Manchester’s plan for Jobs, Homes and the Environment, the Spatial Framework, sets out how the city-region will build the right homes, in the right places so everyone can live in well-connected and environmentally sustainable villages, towns and cities. It will also help Greater Manchester continue to be a dynamic, attractive place to invest and do business. The pandemic has made planning for our future even more important and this plan can be a key tool in helping Greater Manchester recover and thrive.
This plan was shared in 2019 and leaders listened to the views of more than 17,000 residents, businesses and community groups. Leaders have also taken into account the impact of the pandemic and together this has shaped this final version of the plan.
In September and October the final draft of the plan will be subject to full scrutiny by all councillors across Greater Manchester’s 10 boroughs. If approved for publication, the plan will be brought forward for an eight-week public consultation in early November to give stakeholders a chance to see how the plan has been changed in response to issues raised previously. There will also be an opportunity to raise formal objections to the plan.
The Greater Manchester Clean Air Plan aims to bring nitrogen dioxide (NO2) air pollution levels from road vehicles within legal limits by 2024 at the latest, as directed by government. The wide-ranging proposals, which include the largest Clean Air Zone outside London, include measures to reduce emissions from the most polluting commercial road vehicles, with a package of financial support to encourage businesses to switch to cleaner, low- or zero-emission models.
Greater Manchester is committed to supporting businesses, to make sure they can upgrade to cleaner vehicles ahead of the introduction of the proposed Clean Air Zone. This will include access to lump sum grants or financing options to contribute to the cost of replacement vehicles to move to a modern, compliant fleet.
In response to the Clean Air Plan proposals, Government has already committed £41 million to support Greater Manchester businesses, sole traders and the voluntary sector to help upgrade to cleaner commercial vehicles. These vehicles would not be liable to pay a daily charge when a Category C* Greater Manchester-wide Clean Air Zone is introduced in spring 2022.
Leaders are also working with government to secure more than £110m in further financial support for those businesses and organisations affected by the Clean Air Zone.**
Last year, a public conversation on the Clean Air Plan’s outline business case found that nearly 70% of individuals were supportive of the proposals.
Further analysis and modelling of proposed daily charges for non-compliant vehicles has suggested that the charges should be adjusted to more effectively encourage affected business to upgrade to cleaner vehicles. Following this work, the proposed daily charge for Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs), buses and coaches has been reduced from £100 to £60 per day from the introduction of a Clean Air Zone in 2022, as analysis showed this would deliver very similar upgrade responses and benefits.
The proposed daily charge for vans and minibuses has changed from £7.50 to £10 per day, as modelling suggests that this would lead to nearly 70% of vehicles being upgraded rather than less than half. Non-compliant vans and minibuses would be exempt from Clean Air Zone daily charges until 2023 to give vehicle owners more time to upgrade, as would wheelchair-accessible taxis and private hire vehicles, and Greater Manchester-registered coaches.
The overall aim of the Government-directed Clean Air Zone is to tackle nitrogen dioxide roadside emissions in the shortest time possible, and the proposed funding package as part of Greater Manchester’s plans for affected commercial vehicle owners is to minimise any financial impacts and support them in upgrading from high-polluting vehicles.
Councillor Andrew Western, Greater Manchester Green City-region Lead, said: “We want everyone in Greater Manchester to enjoy better, secure standards of living, in a city-region that puts lives and living at the heart of everything we do.
“The last few months have brought about a reduction in road traffic and a massive increase in cycling and walking journeys, and we should grasp this these benefits to help shape a recovery that is green and sustainable.
“We know that people want to see further improvements to cleaning up our air, and we are committed to doing this as quickly as we can while supporting our businesses, to make sure they can upgrade to cleaner vehicles ahead of the introduction of the proposed Clean Air Zone.”
Alongside the Clean Air Plan, the city-region’s 10 local authorities have agreed to collectively develop a common set of minimum standards for taxi and private hire services covering the whole of Greater Manchester.
Recognising the important role that the region’s taxis and private hire vehicles play in the transport network, plans to introduce common minimum standards across the city-region’s 10 local authorities will help provide high-quality services for residents and visitors.
Standards would cover drivers, operators and vehicles, and go further and greener than the government’s new standards for the sector by including a step-by-step pathway to reducing harmful emissions from taxis and private hire vehicles. The aim is to have an entirely zero emission taxi and private hire fleet across Greater Manchester by the end of the decade.
For drivers this would include common standards on criminal record checks, local area knowledge tests, English language skills and driving proficiency. For vehicles there would be a set standard on vehicle emissions, ages, colour, common livery, the use of CCTV, and accessibility. Operators would also be subject to criminal record checks and to follow stringent booking processes.
With plans for an emission-free fleet across the city region by the end of the decade, Greater Manchester will look to minimise the impact on the trade and incentivise the switch to electric or low carbon vehicles while meeting Clean Air Plan targets.
As well as funding support to move to greener vehicles, Greater Manchester is proposing a ‘Try Before You Buy’ scheme for Hackney carriage drivers to test-drive electric taxis, and a network of taxi-only rapid electric vehicle charging points.