Driv­ers fac­ing £7.50 a day ‘clean air’ bill

Middleton Guardian - - MIDDLETON PEOPLE - CHAR­LOTTE COX

DRIV­ERS of high­pol­lut­ing cars could be charged £7.50 a day to en­ter the city cen­tre un­der a £20m scheme to meet new clean-air tar­gets.

A doc­u­ment ob­tained by our sis­ter pa­per the M.E.N. re­veals trans­port bosses are con­sid­er­ing plans to in­tro­duce ‘Clean Air Zones’ within Manch­ester and ar­eas in Bolton and Bury.

They would tar­get ve­hi­cles that in­fringe emis­sion stan­dards, in­clud­ing mostly diesel cars but also older mod­els that run on petrol.

The zones would be aimed at tack­ling our air pol­lu­tion lev­els, which are among the worst in the coun­try and es­ti­mated to con­trib­ute to more than 1,000 pre­ma­ture deaths a year.

The four-page re­port out­lines a draft proposal to meet the tar­gets by plac­ing 66 num­ber plate recog­ni­tion cam­eras across the re­gion to form a ‘ ring of steel’ around the charg­ing ar­eas.

To be in­tro­duced as early as 2020, the mea­sures would be sub­ject to fea­si­bil­ity stud­ies, sig­noff by lo­cal gov­ern­ment and public con­sul­ta­tion.

But the doc­u­ment, be­lieved to be pro­duced for Trans­port for Greater Manch­ester (TfGM), out­lines three main ar­eas in Greater Manch­ester where driv­ers of buses, HGVs and high-pol­lut­ing cars would have to pay if the scheme went ahead. These are:

Sev­eral roads in the city cen­tre, in­clud­ing parts of the inner re­lief road (Man­cu­nian Way)

A large stretch of St Peter’s Way in Bolton

Main routes into Bury town cen­tre from the south west of the town

It states all zones could in­clude re­stric­tions on buses, coaches, taxis, HGVs, LGVs and cars.

‘Rec­om­mended charges’ cite a daily tar­iff of £7.50 for cars, £20 for LGVs and £100 for HGVs. These would op­er­ate 24-hours-a-day. Mea­sures to curb pol­lut­ing ve­hi­cles are cen­tral to new gov­ern­ment air qual­ity guide­lines pub­lished by the De­part­ment for Environment, Food and Rural Af­fairs (Defra).

It’s part of a long-term am­bi­tion for nearly ev­ery car and van to pro­duce zero emis­sions by 2050.

Cur­rently in con­sul­ta­tion, it states ‘lo­cal au­thor­i­ties will be given clear le­gal du­ties’ to de­velop Clean Air Zone plans.

A spokesman for TfGM said they were work­ing closely with Defra on air qual­ity pol­icy in Greater Manch­ester. He said they had started to ex­plore the fea­si­bil­ity of Clean Air Zones.

The work is crit­i­cal, he said, be­cause Defra’s re­port states lo­cal au­thor­i­ties have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to bring pol­lu­tion lev­els within le­gal lim­its in the short­est time pos­si­ble.

He added: “As such, this early-stage ex­ploratory work, for which Defra pro­vided funding, con­sid­ers a wide range of pos­si­ble op­tions and sce­nar­ios and aims to as­sess a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of vari­ables which need to be con­sid­ered.

“Over the course of the com­ing weeks we will be re­view­ing Defra’s na­tional pro­pos­als in line with our Greater Manch­ester Low Emis­sion Strat­egy and Air Qual­ity Ac­tion Plan, and Greater Manch­ester Com­bined Author­ity (GMCA) will be re­spond­ing to the con­sul­ta­tion as ap­pro­pri­ate.”

A spokesman for new mayor Andy Burn­ham said he had not seen or played a role in draw­ing up the lo­cal doc­u­ment. He said his man­i­festo had ruled out a con­ges­tion charge in Greater Manch­ester and that would not change, adding: “We do need to im­prove air qual­ity in Greater Manch­ester, but we will not pun­ish driv­ers of diesel cars who bought them in good faith.

“It is for the gov­ern­ment to give diesel driv­ers help to switch to less pol­lut­ing ve­hi­cles.”

Coun Chris Paul, chair­man of an Air Qual­ity task group, said Clean Air Zones would be ‘com­pletely dif­fer­ent’ to con­ges­tion charg­ing. He added: “For me in Manch­ester the dif­fi­culty is in the prac­ti­cal­ity.

“In Lon­don it’s easy to im­ple­ment be­cause there is an un­der­ly­ing con­ges­tion charge. With this, the devil will be in the de­tail. Peo­ple are sym­pa­thetic to the lives of chil­dren and vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple be­ing short­ened by pol­lu­tion.

“But they feel up­set that they were en­cour­aged to buy diesel cars and now find they aren’t as good as had been thought.”

Other mea­sures out­lined in the na­tional plan in­clude low­er­ing speed lim­its and a diesel scrap­page scheme.

Trans­port here ac­counts for 30pc of dan­ger­ous emis­sions, with 95pc of those com­ing from road ve­hi­cles.

Driv­ers of high-pol­lut­ing cars could be hit by the charge

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