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Businesses urged to have their say in 2 major consultations

16 November 2020

Help clean up Greater Manchester's air. Businesses are being called on to have their say in 2 major public consultations to help shape Greater Manchester’s plans to tackle air pollution as part of efforts to build back cleaner and greener following the pandemic.

Tens of thousands of people have already engaged with the proposals on a Clean Air Zone (CAZ) and minimum standards for taxis and private hire vehicles licensed in Greater Manchester.

Businesses and people across the borough of Rochdale still have several weeks to have their say in the consultations, which runs until Thursday, 3 December 2020.

For businesses and taxi operators, the Clean Air team is hosting a series of webinars, which offer a more detailed presentation and an opportunity to ask questions about the plans and funding packages being proposed.

Business webinars will take place 10am-11am on Wednesday, 18 November 2020 and 4pm-5pm on Thursday, 26 November 2020.

Taxi and Private Hire webinars will take place 2pm-3pm on Wednesday, 11 November 2020 and 3pm-4pm on Wednesday, 25 November 2020.

People can find out more and give their views online, or ring to request further support, including copies of consultation documents.

Councillor Sara Rowbotham, cabinet member for climate change and sustainability at Rochdale Borough Council, said: “Businesses and residents across our borough continue to be impacted by the pandemic so it’s more important than ever for businesses to have their say on changes that affect them.

“We want to hear from everyone so that we can clean up our air together. Businesses can help to bolster our case to government to make sure they get the support they need under these proposals.

“Air pollution affects us all and we must act now.”

Greater Manchester’s progressive Clean Air Plan aims to bring nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution levels on local roads within legal limits in the shortest time possible, and includes a Government-directed Category C Clean Air Zone (CAZ).

The Clean Air consultation asks for views on key elements of the Zone, including its proposed boundary, daily charges, discounts and exemptions, and the funding packages to support local businesses to upgrade to cleaner vehicles.

Government has already awarded Greater Manchester £41million initial funding and leaders are seeking more than £100million further funding, alongside a £10million ‘Hardship fund’ to support those considered most vulnerable to the financial impacts of the CAZ.

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.

Greater Manchester’s 10 local councils, supported by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM), want to see taxi and private hire services deliver a safe and high-quality experience for everyone, using vehicles that meet high environmental standards. The proposed standards, which would cover drivers, operators and vehicles, and local licensing authorities, are designed to make sure every journey is safer and more reliable, and to help secure the trade’s long-term future.

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.