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Calls for controversial Clean Air Zone scheme to be 'paused'

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse

Calls for controversial Clean Air Zone scheme to be 'paused'  13358100?type=responsive-gallery-fullscreen

Metro Mayor Andy Burnham says he recognises that fact the controversial Clean Air Zone proposals will impact jobs and businesses as he announced a 'review' of the scheme was taking place.

Mr Burnham urged the leaders of Greater Manchester to lobby the Government for more support in implementing the scheme designed to cut air pollution.

While Bolton West MP Chris Green has called for scheme to be 'paused' and looked at again.

He told Radio Manchester: "We as Greater Manchester need to go back to the Government and say we have tried to do it but we are worried about the situation because we can't do it without damaging some people's jobs and businesses."

Mr Burham said in light of the backlash to the charges, and the impact the pandemic had on businesses ­— especially with the availability of some vehicles and people's ability to upgrade.

He said he was listening to people adding: "We are reviewing this situation."

Mr Burnham said: "We have been looking this issue and leaders in GM will be meeting next week to discuss where we go from here, it is a challenging situation."

Under Clean Air Zone proposals non compliant HGVs, buses, coaches, vans, mini-buses, taxes and certain categories of motorhomes will face charges varying from £7.50 to £60 daily.

Charges are set to be brought in from May, staggered until June 2023

Private cars, motorbikes and mopeds won’t be affected.

Failure to pay the charge will result in a £120 fine plus the daily charge.

Greater Manchester has been awarded £120m of government funding to help eligible businesses, organisations and individuals move to compliant vehicles.

But Burnham blamed the government for not financing a ‘hardship fund’ aimed at helping sole traders and small businesses with the oldest vehicles.

Mr Burnham stressed all 10 councils in Greater Manchester have been instructed by the government to cut air pollution by 2024 by introducing a clean air zone.

He said: “If we could stop it, then that would be a fair thing for people to be really shouting at us about it. But we can’t.

“We are not in a position to stop this because the government lost a court case and had to impose this. Only they can change the deadline or the scheme.”

GMCA leaders are set to meet next week to consider these issues, before a Clean Air committee consider their implications for the Clean Air Zone later in the month.

On Monday taxi drivers in Bolton are set to stage a protest over concerns about how their livelihoods will be affected.

Bolton West MP Chris Green is among a number of MPs calling for the Government to pause the rollout of the scheme to allow it "radically reformed".

Mr Green said: “As the date for implementation of the clean air zone approaches, businesses and other organisations are becoming increasingly concerned with inherent problems in this scheme as well as insufficient funding to cover business costs of replacing fleets of vehicles. These existing problems are obviously compounded by the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.”


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