Government “penalising” logistics businesses in response to Greater Manchester C

Government “penalising” logistics businesses in response to Greater Manchester CAZ plans

Government plans to include vans two years earlier than planned in Greater Manchester’s Clean Air Zone proposals will unfairly penalise logistics businesses, the Freight Transport Association has warned.

Under Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) proposals for the GM CAZ, hauliers would have to pay £100 for non-compliant HGVs from 2021 but the instruction to  include vans at this earlier date, rather than the GMCA timeframe of 2023, means logistics businesses with non-compliant vans would have pay £7.50 per day in 18 months’ time.

Commenting, Mags Simpson, FTA’s Head of Policy for Northern England, said: “While the logistics sector is fully committed to reducing vehicle emissions wherever possible and acknowledges the role the industry must play in improving the air quality of our cities, allowing only 18 months in which Manchester’s van operators must become compliant before the introduction of the authority’s Clean Air Zone is simply an additional tax on the area’s small businesses.  

 “The original proposals placed before government allowed time for vehicles to be replaced or upgraded but the new plan outlined today will force operators into acquiring costly new vehicles ahead of their standard replacement cycle or into a regime of punitive daily charges.  It is essential that an air quality scheme for Greater Manchester is developed with the needs of businesses that serve the area in mind, not one which drives up operating costs for small businesses and unfairly penalises the hardworking individuals and businesses which keep Greater Manchester’s economy thriving.”

GMCA’s plans for a GM Clean Air Zone, which covers all 10 boroughs and more than 500 square miles, sought £116m of funding from the Government to help firms switch to cleaner vehicles, including a £59m Clean Freight Fund for upgrading HGVs and vans. 

The Government has not committed to any funding to support businesses, GMCA said, and instead is offering just £36m "ring-fenced to create a network of cameras that would issue fines to those in breach”. 

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “Greater Manchester stands ready to move at pace to clean up our polluted air and work in partnership with the Government. But it would be unfair to ask Greater Manchester to do this alone and to fund the change by fines on small businesses.

“We don’t want to see a single job or business threatened by the process of cleaning up our air. But we can’t guarantee this without help from the Government.

“Our message to the Government is clear: give Greater Manchester the funds we need to clean up our air and don’t impose a ‘clean air tax’ on our businesses. Give Greater Manchester the same support as London and play fair on clean air.”

Green City-region Portfolio Lead for Greater Manchester, Councillor Andrew Western, added: “Our proposals are clearly designed to take the dirtiest vehicles off our streets as quickly as possible. We don’t want people who have no choice but to stick with their polluting vehicle in the short term paying a daily penalty. But, by demanding that Greater Manchester bring forward the implementation of a Clean Air Zone affecting non-compliant vans by two years, that’s exactly what the ministerial instruction would do. It’s counter-productive.

GMCA will produce a final business case for the GM Clean Air Plan for the end of 2019, following public consultation, and subject to further local authority approvals.