Clean Air Zone: sheep is taken on bus in protest against Greater Manchester environmental scheme

Jade Hutchinson, who is starting a livestock and trading business, said she would have to close the venture down if the green scheme goes ahead as planned.

A sheep and a Shetland pony went for a ride on a Greater Manchester bus in an eye-catching protest against the city-region’s planned Clean Air Zone.

The four-legged passengers hopped on board the Diamond Bus North West vehicle in Ainsworth with pictures of the incident on Tuesday (11 January) attracting considerable attention online.

The protest was created by Jade Hutchinson, who said she wanted to highlight how necessary it is for farming, livestock and related sectors to be able to use their vehicles to go about their daily work.

The authorities have declined to comment.

The protest against the Clean Air Zone organised by Jade Hutchinson. Photo: Andrew Clutterbuck

Why did Jade take a sheep on a bus to protest against the Clean Air Zone?

Jade, who in the process of setting up a livestock and business, says she would have to close down the start-up venture if the Clean Air Zone goes ahead as planned as she would be unable to afford to keep her pick-up truck.

She joined Facebook group Rethink GM, which now has more than 50,000 members, before deciding to put on a protest event to graphically illustrate that some trades cannot be done on public transport.

Jade Hutchinson took a sheep on a bus to protest against the Greater Manchester Clean Air Zone

She took one of her sheep, called Colin, to a bus stop in Ainsworth to catch a ride a short distance to where she keeps animals in a field.

Someone also brought a Shetland pony along for the bus trip.

Diamond Bus North West provided a fully sanitised vehicle just for the unusual four-legged passengers to ensure they could make the short journey safely.

While the pictures of the animals boarding the bus may have raised a smile, Jade says the situation behind the protest is extremely serious.

Jade with the sheep on the bus Credit: Andrew Clutterbuck

She said: “I have to rely on transport to move animals around. I have to transport sheep from field to field and take them and bring them back from auction.

“I’ve got an up-and-coming business and the Clean Air Zone is going to mean having to get rid of the truck because I won’t be able to afford it. The charge of £70 per week is ridiculous.

“I would have to close down and sell everything.

“Going on the Facebook page I saw the stress caused by this matter but no-one was bringing the farming and animal aspect of it in at all.

Jade Hutchinson with Colin the sheep and a Shetland pony on the bus to protest against the Clean Air Zone. Photo: Melissa Burrows

“I decided to take Colin along and someone nearby brought her Shetland pony. Diamond Buses created perfect sanitary conditions for the animals and took into account public safety which I 100% stand by. It was a nice steady ride and everything was perfect.”

Jade said hers and similar businesses also rely on large vehicles to transport heavy machinery and equipment around.

She thanked Diamond Bus North West for facilitating the protest and also suggested criticism of the company for laying on an extra bus for the animals was wide of the mark. She said the company had been right to do so for reasons of public safety and to ensure sanitary conditions.

What else has been said about the incident?

Last week a joint statement by Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham and the city-region’s clean air lead Coun Andrew Western said work was being done on how Covid-19 had changed the circumstances facing businesses and the backlash against the scheme was being considered.

On Tuesday Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) declined to comment about the sheep protest.

Diamond Bus North West has also been approached for comment.