Call for clarity on clean air funding

21 Jan 2020 12:59
Published by: Scott Callan


GREATER Manchester authorities including Trafford have renewed their calls on the government to commit funding to the region’s ambitious Clean Air Plan proposals.

It follows the announcement of a new environment bill in December’s Queens Speech which would increase local powers to address air pollution.

Greater Manchester submitted its Clean Air Plan outline business case to government early last year.

In July a response from the then environment minister Therese Coffey failed to commit to funding to help businesses upgrade to cleaner vehicles as part of the plan to tackle harmful levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) on local roads.

The only government funding committed was £36m to take forward proposals for a charging Clean Air Zone in which the most polluting commercial vehicles would be charged to travel on local roads in Greater Manchester.

Greater Manchester green city-region lead, Councillor Andrew Western, who is also leader of Trafford Council, said: “I’m looking forward to seeing the detail behind the environment bill announcement, particularly on strengthening local council’s powers to deal with air pollution.

“But we need major funding from government now to address what is a very serious air quality problem on many local roads across our region.

“We’re committed to improving the air we all breathe as quickly as possible and we have ambitious proposals that we want to move forward with. It’s harming our health and bad for our economy.

“But we need to ensure that those local businesses most affected by our Clean Air Zone proposals have the financial support they need to move to cleaner vehicles.

“We’re playing our part. We’ve submitted extensive further evidence to the government’s Joint Air Quality Unit on our funding ask to support local businesses.

“But we still have no commitment to clean vehicle funds and, crucially, still need final clarification on the legal criteria against which Greater Manchester’s Clean Air Plan would be assessed.”

Greater Manchester authorities are also writing to government urging swift action to tackle the health threat caused by engine idling, which contributes to high levels of air pollution, especially outside schools.

Currently councils have the powers to impose a £20 fine on drivers leaving their engine idling, but only if the driver fails to turn off their engine when asked to do so by an enforcement officer.

Cllr Western added: “Local authorities across the UK need government action to help us tackle the health threats caused by idling engines on our streets and at our school gates. The current enforcement powers are simply not effective.

“Back in June, government promised a consultation on proposals to impose tougher fines on people who leave their engines running while parked.

“We need this to happen as soon as possible, and we’d like stronger anti-idling legislation to be just one part of the package of new local powers promised in the environment bill. In the meantime, we’ll work to raise awareness of this important issue though local publicity campaigns.”

Greater Manchester’s Clean Air Plan proposals include a significant funding package for businesses to upgrade their fleets to cleaner vehicles, the largest proposed Clean Air Zone in the UK, and a bid to treble the size of the region’s electric vehicle public charging network.


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