Manchester’s planned Clean Air Zone to be reviewed

Driving in and around Greater Manchester (GM) was set to become a much pricier venture from the end of May this year, when the new ‘Clean Air Zone’ that had been proposed was to be rolled out. However, those who rely on transport for work and business purposes can temporarily breathe a sigh of relief, as following push back from local leaders the plan is to be referred back to the government for review. Here we’ve explained more about this, how it could impact on businesses and why now could be the right time for fleet managers to look for cheap van deals.

What is the ‘Clean Air Zone’?

Under its original proposals the first phase of the ‘Clean Air Zone’ was set to start from May 30th, with daily charges for ‘non-compliant HGVs, buses, and non-Greater Manchester licensed taxis and private hire vehicles’ that wish to drive around the area. Phase two would then begin in June next year extending to LGVs and minibuses.

The phased approach was a deliberate choice to allow businesses, organisations and people in GM to ‘upgrade to cleaner vehicles which would not be subject to a daily charge to travel in the Clean Air Zone’. Those affected could also seek support from a £120m fund set aside by the government to help them make the change. The charges would not apply to private cars, motorbikes or mopeds.

As the name suggests, the overarching aims of the scheme is to bring cleaner air to GM and to get ‘long-term annual standards of harmful nitrogen dioxide air pollution at the roadside within legal limits as soon as possible’.


Why have people pushed back on it?

While there are the clear benefits to be had for reducing emissions and making the area greener and safer, many businesses have voiced concerns that the charges – which could be up to £70 a day – would simply not be viable, especially for small businesses. Many companies could face closure or at least be forced to make drastic cuts to meet the charges.

In addition, a report from ManchesterWorld claims that ‘thousands’ of people are also worried about being able to find and obtain ‘compliant vehicles’ ahead of the new deadline.

However, the same report also details that local GM council leaders have now met and will ask the government to pause the roll out of the first phase and give it a ‘fundamental review’.

What is likely to change?

The issues many have raised about the new charges should hopefully be enough for the government to reconsider them, hopefully making them either less expensive, or giving those affected more financial support.

What does seem certain though is that a Clean Air Zone of some form will be coming to GM whether it’s this year or the next. As such it may mean SMEs, large firms and fleet managers alike may need to rethink their respective business strategies in the face of these new green targets.

How to make this more affordable

One positive to take away from this though is that this pausing and reviewing of the Clean Air Zone does then give businesses in the GM area a bit more time to upgrade their fleet of vehicles if they wish. This is also something we here at Van Discount can help with, as we have many low-emission models that would meet any new standards, should they eventually come into force.

To find out more, take a look at our current stock online or get in touch with us directly by calling 01282 872 530. Our teams can advise on which vehicles would be both the best fit for your business and the environment.