MP Robert Largan's first column of 2022 focuses on the impact that the Clean Air Zone set to be introduced in Greater Manchester later this year will have on people in the High Peak.
Andy Burnham, as Mayor of Greater Manchester, is introducing a local Clean Air Zone on 30 May 2022.
From this date, any commercial vehicles that don’t meet emission standards will face a daily charge for driving into Greater Manchester. For example, heavy goods vehicles which have a Euro 5 standard engine or earlier, will be subject to a daily charge of £60.00. Non-compliant coaches will also be subject to a £60.00 daily charge; taxis and private hire vehicles £7.50; and light goods vehicles £10.00.
To mitigate the impact this will have on businesses and the wider public, the Government has established the £132 million Clean Air Fund to help with the cost of adapting vehicles to meet the new standards. It is important to note that when granting the Fund, the Department for Transport stipulated that it was up to the Mayor of Greater Manchester to decide its eligibility criteria.
Unfortunately, businesses registered outside of the Greater Manchester region have so far been excluded by the Mayor of Greater Manchester from the Clean Air Fund. I am very concerned about this decision.
Without the right support in place to help those businesses and individuals least able to adapt to these new requirements, this could make it impossible for many businesses to continue to do business across the border in Greater Manchester. This could lead to significant local job losses.
I have, therefore, been leading a cross-party campaign to push the Mayor to do more to support businesses hit by the cost of the new Clean Air Zone.
Together, with Members of Parliament from across the region, I have written to the Mayor to call on him to change the eligibility criteria for the Clean Air Fund so that High Peak businesses can apply for support.
In addition, I am grateful to the Leader of High Peak Borough Council, Anthony Mckeown, for agreeing to join the campaign and we have also written jointly to the Mayor to express our concerns about the impact on High Peak.
We are particularly alarmed about the potential impact on local bus operators, who face the prospect of extortionate daily costs for running much-needed services into Greater Manchester. I have consistently spoken about the need to invest more in public transport here in High Peak, and we cannot afford this set back.
Since being elected, I have always been committed to putting the people of High Peak ahead of party politics. I warmly welcome the cross-party support this campaign has achieved, and I hope that, together, we can push the Mayor to change his mind and urgently do more to support local businesses.