FSB responds to today’s Clean Air Zone consultation announcement
The Federation of Small Businesses has said today’s announcement that the authorities in Greater Manchester will push ahead with the consultation process for a Clean Air Zone this autumn is ‘unwelcome’ and ‘totally the wrong time’.
FSB Development Manager for GM, Robert Downes, said: “This is going to feel like a real kick in the teeth for many businesses already fighting for their survival as a result of the corona virus pandemic. Most are totally focused on just getting through the next six to 12 months – which I might add also includes Brexit in January – without another existential threat to deal with.
“This is something the Combined Authority and local authorities should be putting back well in to next year, once businesses will be much more aware of the new landscape they are working in - post-Covid and post-Brexit. Yes, let’s build back greener – no one would argue with that - but let’s not rush it.
“Today’s announcement is very unwelcome and totally the wrong time to throw something like this back in to the mix.”
He added: “Data from pollution modelling carried out two summers ago around where the air quality issues were most pronounced in GM will almost certainly be totally out of date for the UK we will find ourselves in today. We just don’t know enough about how people’s working patterns and business trends will change to forge ahead with this scheme in its current format, using old data long pre-dating Covid.
“There’s also a question mark over funding. The Government has only committed to a fraction of the cash GM says it needs to put in place schemes needed to help businesses transition to cleaner vehicles. Should the approach not be wait for the Government to be honest about the type of financial support they can realistically offer, before we rush headlong into a scheme as potentially damaging to business as this will be if that funding isn’t in place?
“This needs to go back to the drawing board.”