Greater Manchester leaders have agreed that no vehicles should be charged in the new Clean Air Zone, as the scheme remains under review. The 500-mile emissions-based charging zone would have been launched at the end of May, charging vehicles between £7.50 and £60 daily to drive in and around Greater Manchester.
The scheme was delayed last month after many supply chain issues meant many businesses couldn’t get access to cleaner vehicles.
As a result of Covid, the price and availability of second-hand vehicles made it harder for businesses and drivers to adhere to the rules.
In a letter to the Prime Minister, Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham has called for a ‘non-charging’ scheme which would help fund vehicle upgrades.
The bid has been backed by all nine Labour council leaders in the city-region – and Bolton’s Conservative leader has said he would support no charges too, according to Manchester Evening News.
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The cameras could instead be used to identify non-compliant vehicles and signpost them to financial support, although this would require more funding.
In the letter, Andy Burnham calls for a non-charging Category B Clean Air Zone – which would exclude vans, motorhomes, mopeds and cars completely.
He wrote: “We are of the clear view that any new scheme should be based on incentives for individuals and businesses to change vehicles rather than a charging penalty regime.
“But, to succeed, this will require your Government to agree to the extra financial investment needed to enable vehicle upgrades to happen without the owners incurring unacceptable costs.
The nine Labour leaders of Greater Manchester have also issued a joint statement saying they will press for a non-charging zone for all vehicles.
The leader of Bolton council, the only local authority under Conservative control in the city-region, has suggested he too would support such a scheme.
Councillor Martyn Cox said Bolton Council only accepted the original scheme proposed because of the threat of legal action which local authorities faced.
He added: “If Greater Manchester reaches a position where we can clean our air without imposing large fines on small businesses, there’d be nobody happier than me.
“We’re prepared to look at any reasonable proposition. What we’re seeing at the moment is that the existing scheme clearly doesn’t carry popular support.
“We think it’s using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.
“At the moment, any scheme is better than the one proposed.”