At the July 2021 Trafford Council meeting, the council voted to approve the Greater Manchester Clean Air Plan. The plan has been created by the 10 Greater Manchester local authorities, Transport for Greater Manchester and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority to tackle NO2 Exceedances at the Roadside and will cover the whole of Greater Manchester.
Operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the Clean Air Zone created through the plan would see vans, buses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles, minibuses and heavy goods vehicles that do not meet emission standards paying a daily charge to travel in the Zone. Enforced by a network of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras, proposed charges for non-compliant vehicles entering the zone range from £7.50 for taxis and private hire vehicles to £60 for buses and heavy goods vehicles. Light goods vehicles such as vans and minibuses would pay £10 to enter the zone. If the daily charge for a non-compliant vehicle isn’t paid, there will be a liability to pay a Penalty Charge Notice of £120 in addition to the unpaid daily charge.
Since the Clean Air Zone was first proposed, Conservatives in Trafford have been concerned about the scale of the proposed charging zone and the impact of the charges on small businesses.
Cllr. Dave Morgan, Shadow Executive Member for Environmental and Regulatory Services at Trafford Council said “Conservatives welcome initiatives to clean up our dirty air, but this plan is a very odd proposal. The zone will cover the whole of Greater Manchester, despite most of the issues being centred on our city centre. The plan in some respects doesn’t go far enough however as it doesn’t included the Strategic Road Network roads. That means that communities in Trafford close to the M60 at Stretford and Davyhulme for example will continue to be impacted by dirty air from vehicles using the network.
Cllr. Nathan Evans, Leader of Trafford Conservative Group said “The Clean Air Plan approved by the council highlights government funding to retrofit vehicles that have older engines which are not compliant with the Greater Manchester Clean Air Zone emission standards. Information provided to Trafford Conservatives by Transport for Greater Manchester reveals however that it is estimated that approximately at present 10% of the non-complaint light good vehicles in Greater Manchester are currently retrofittable. That means that 90% of Trafford small businesses such as our florists, bricklayers and carpet cleaners will have to look at potentially paying £30,000 for a new vehicle as their existing vehicles cannot be retrofitted. The Clean Air Plan offers affected businesses a meagre grant of up to £4,500 to obtain a new vehicle which is wholly inadequate. It is very concerning that Trafford Labour have chosen not to support small businesses by voting through this plan.
“A further concern is over how many potentially affected businesses are even aware that the plan for a Clean Air Zone is progressing. Only 3% of businesses across Greater Manchester took part in the consultation and at a time when businesses are emerging out of the Covid-19 pandemic, the last thing they need is to be hit with new charges simply to carry out their day-to-day activities. Trafford Conservatives will continue to ask the Mayor of Greater Manchester to come up with a more sensible approach to cleaning up our dirty air through one which doesn’t hit our local businesses and ultimately Trafford residents with disproportionally increased costs.”