Leader's column: Your say on clean air plan

In her latest column, Tameside Council leader Cllr Brenda Warrington explains more about the region's Clean Air Plan and recommends that anyone who thinks they will be affected to take part in the current consultation.

Last week, Greater Manchester launched an eight-week consultation on our Clean Air Plan.

The dangers of dirty air can sometimes be hidden, but they must be taken seriously. 

Air pollution contributes to the deaths of over 1,200 people every year in Greater Manchester, with the youngest, the oldest and the most deprived in our society being the most likely to fall victim to this silent killer.

By any standard, protecting the air that we all breathe is one of the most urgent public health challenges outside of coronavirus that we face today. 

But it is also a problem that pays no heed to borders or boundaries. In Greater Manchester we know that it is not a Tameside challenge, nor a Salford challenge or a Trafford challenge, it is a challenge that needs to be faced together.

Despite our shared industrial past, the days of choking smog and industrial chimneys over the Greater Manchester skyline are long gone.

In the 21st century the greatest danger is from emissions from vehicles, in particular nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter that can get into the lungs.

The Clean Air Plan comes in two parts. The first is the creation of a Greater Manchester-wide Clean Air Zone, targeted at the roads in the city region with the highest levels of NO2 pollution. 

From spring 2022 commercial vehicles will be required to pay a daily charge to travel on these roads, with failure to pay resulting in a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) of £120. 

The current proposed fees are: £7.50 for taxis and private hire vehicles, £60 for lorries, buses, coaches and other heavy vehicles, and from 2023 there will also be £10 charge for lighter vehicles such as van and minibuses.

The second part of the plan is an unprecedented £150 million package of funding for residents and businesses to help them to upgrade their commercial vehicles, taxis or buses before the Clean Air Zone is introduced.

There will also be additional investment in electric vehicle infrastructure and a Hardship Fund for those who have been particularly affected by the changes.

The consultation runs from now until December 3, and I would recommend that anybody who thinks that they will be affected by the proposals should let us know their views. Help us make sure that your voice is heard as we work to protect our shared environment, now and for the future.

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