‘We all want a non-charging Clean Air Zone in Greater Manchester’ Andy Burnham tells Prime Minister
Andy Burnham has written to the Prime Minister saying Greater Manchester leaders are united on the issue and told him ‘the ball is in your court.’
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No vehicles should be charged in the new Clean Air Zone (CAZ), Greater Manchester leaders have agreed, as the scheme remains under review.
The bid has been backed by all nine Labour council leaders in the city-region – and Bolton’s Conservative leader has said he would support no charges too.
It comes after the controversial scheme that was set to start charging some commercial vehicles which exceed air quality standards in May was paused.
A new ministerial direction requiring Greater Manchester to comply with legal limits on air pollution was issued, delaying the deadline by two years to 2026.
Leaders now believe that this can be achieved without a charging scheme.
The cameras could instead be used to identify non-compliant vehicles and signpost them to financial support – but this would require more funding.
What has Andy Burnham said in his letter to the PM?
In the letter, Mr Burnham calls for a non-charging Category B Clean Air Zone – which would exclude vans, motorhomes, mopeds and cars completely.
He wrote: “We are of the clear view that any new scheme should be based on incentives for individuals and businesses to change vehicles rather than a charging penalty regime.
“But, to succeed, this will require your government to agree to the extra financial investment needed to enable vehicle upgrades to happen without the owners incurring unacceptable costs.”
The metro mayor also told the Prime Minister he hopes politics can be taken out of the issue and a resolution found quickly, saying ‘the ball is in your court’.
The nine Labour leaders of Greater Manchester have also issued a joint statement saying they will press for a non-charging zone for all vehicles.
The leader of Bolton Council, the only local authority under Conservative control in the city-region, has suggested he too would support such a scheme.
Coun Martyn Cox said he Bolton Council only accepted the original scheme proposed because of the threat of legal action which local authorities faced.
He said: “If Greater Manchester reaches a position where we can clean our air without imposing large fines on small businesses, there’d be nobody happier than me.
“We’re prepared to look at any reasonable proposition.
“What we’re seeing at the moment is that the existing scheme clearly doesn’t carry popular support. We think it’s using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.
“At the moment, any scheme is better than the one proposed.”
What else has been said today?
On BBC Radio Manchester this morning (3 March), the mayor was called out for ‘demanding’ a Clean Air Zone in Greater Manchester when he was an MP.
Before he became mayor in 2017, Mr Burnham had called on the government to give Greater Manchester the power to create a Clean Air Zone in Parliament.
However, he claimed he was calling for a ‘non-charging’ Clean Air Zone.
He said: “There are different types of Clean Air Zones and I’ve always said I’m not necessarily opposed to one.”
Mr Burnham said he would want to ‘switch off’ the Clean Air Zone once air quality compliance has been achieved and the cameras could be used by the police.