Heywood & Middleton MP calls for GM Clean Air Zone deployment to be delayed

The Member for Heywood and Middleton signed an open letter calling on the government to delay the deployment of the Greater Manchester Clean Air Zone.

Chris Clarkson, Member of Parliament for Heywood and Middleton, joined his fellow Conservatives from across the region in writing a letter to the Secretary of State for Environment and Rural Affairs.

In the letter, MEPs argue that the current plan, due to be rolled out in May, is “too disruptive” for businesses and individuals and call for a “global reassessment” of how the pandemic has altered pollution in the world. region.

The controversial Clean Air Zone has sparked an uproar among drivers who say it will financially “cripple” their businesses.

Non-compliant trucks, buses and coaches will be charged £ 60 per day, while taxis and private hire vehicles will pay £ 7.50 and vans £ 10 per day from 2023.

The program aims to tackle emissions such as nitrogen dioxide, among a series of air pollutants considered to be ‘silent killers’, contributing to more than 1,200 premature deaths per year in Greater Manchester and one of the main causes of asthma, heart disease and Alzheimer’s.

Greater Manchester councils insist they have been legally mandated by the government to introduce CAZ in order to come into compliance by 2024 at the latest.

Last year, every borough in Greater Manchester exceeded new air pollution limits set by the World Health Organization.

In the letter signed by Mr. Clarkson, the main objections arise from the model chosen for the scheme and the level of support that has been allocated.

He says: “We have always been clear that this Grand Manchetser-wide program is not good for us because we need localized solutions to particular problems, rather than this crude-to-size plan. unique.

“One of the consequences of the disruptions caused by Covid has been the difficulty for manufacturers to produce new vehicles that would meet Clean Air Zone standards.

“As we emerge from the pandemic, businesses are in a precarious position. Imposing these additional costs which are not adequately covered by the financial support will go much further. “

In a joint statement on Thursday, December 6, Andy Burnham and Councilor Andrew Western, responsible for the city-region’s Clean Air, described CAZ as a “major challenge” for individuals and businesses, and said they had “always been clear” with ministers on the need for a fair package of financial support.

They added: ‘Although the government has provided £ 120million, we fear they have so far not accepted our request for additional support for those who will find it most difficult to make the switch.

“We have also alerted them to our continuing concerns about the vehicle supply chain and the functioning of national highways.”

They said they had been monitoring these issues alongside the impact of the pandemic and the rising cost of living, and had commissioned new work to understand the impact of “growing global supply issues in the industry. automobile “.

They have promised to hold a meeting next week to discuss next steps.

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