TfGM is looking for businesses to give their views on proposals to use £150 million in funding to help fleets across the region switch to cleaner vehicles.
The £150m includes £98m for vans, HGVs, coaches and minibuses, £25m for a Clean Bus Fund to support retrofit of the existing bus fleet, a £28m Clean Taxi Fund and a £10m Hardship fund – dedicated to small businesses and sole traders who could face additional financial concerns to help them switch to compliant vehicles.
Businesses can submit their opinions before December 3 about key elements of the Clean Air Zone (CAZ) and minimum standards for taxis and private hire vehicles licensed in the city-region.
Under the proposals for Manchester's CAZ that is due by spring 2022, the most polluting HGVs, buses, coaches, taxis and private hire vehicles would pay a daily charge to travel in Greater Manchester.
Non-compliant vans and minibuses would be exempt from CAZ 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.
Councillor Andrew Western, Greater Manchester Green City-region Lead, said: “We are fully aware that businesses have been severely impacted by the pandemic, and a further national lockdown to stem the spread of the virus means they continue to be impacted.
“But air pollution also continues to affect us all, particularly our poorest communities, those with health conditions, older people and children.
“Many roads across Greater Manchester are in breach of legal limits for nitrogen dioxide, and we need to act now.”
The Clean Air consultation asks for views on key elements of the CAZ, including its proposed boundary, daily charges, discounts and exemptions, and the funding packages to support local businesses to upgrade to cleaner vehicles.
The purpose of the CAZ is to improve air quality by encouraging drivers to upgrade to a cleaner vehicle.
Non-compliant vehicles would start paying the proposed daily charge when the Zone launches (expected in spring 2022), with the exception of vans and minibuses, which would start paying in 2023.
The consultation on proposed Minimum Licensing Standards for taxis and private hire vehicles is running in parallel to ensure as much certainty and clarity as possible for the trade on any proposed changes required to their vehicles.
With plans for an emission-free fleet across the city-region by the end of the decade, Greater Manchester is looking to minimise the impact on the trade and incentivise the switch to electric or low carbon vehicles while meeting Clean Air Plan targets.
Based on the funding requests to government, Greater Manchester is seeking the most generous offer of support for taxis of any CAZ outside of London – proposing total funding of up to £17,500 to help taxi owners upgrade their vehicles. Funding provision is also being made for private hire vehicles licensed by Greater Manchester local authorities to support the upgrade to cleaner vehicles.
A temporary exemption for wheelchair-accessible taxi and PHVs is also being proposed as well as a ‘Try Before You Buy’ scheme for hackney drivers to test drive electric taxis. Work with the trade is also taking place on the development of a network of taxi and PHV-only electric vehicle charge points.
Transport for Greater Manchester is coordinating the Clean Air and Minimum Licensing Standards consultations on behalf of the 10 Greater Manchester local authorities. The findings from the consultation will be used to inform the final proposals next year.