'Short-lived charge will be cost lorries'

FREIGHT businesses have urged councils across Greater Manchester to rethink their proposal to charge lorries and vans a daily fee in a bid to tackle harmful emissions. The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has described the benefits of Clean Air Zones as “short-lived” and costly, saying that money could be better invested in other ways. It has put forward alternative ways of improving air quality in a document sent to Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM).

Head of urban policy Natalie Chapman told The Bolton News that freight businesses will have to change their vehicle fleets as part of the natural replacement cycle, making the Clean Air plans unnecessary. She said: “We absolutely support what’s trying to be achieved here. There’s still a desire to improve the air that we are breathing.

But this hits hardest those who can least afford to change their vehicles. At some point the fleet replacement cycle would replace itself.” Under the GM Clean Air proposal sent to government earlier this year, non-compliant buses, taxis and HGVs would be charged on certain routes from 2021 and a GBP7.50 per daily charge for vans would begin in 2023.

Greater Manchester also asked for GBP59m towards upgrading lorries and vans, GBP29m to support a switch to greener buses, and GBP28m to clean up taxi cabs and private hire vehicles. But the government offered only GBP36m to install cameras to fine non-compliant vehicles and told the 10 councils to bring forward plans to include vans in the charging scheme to 2021. According to the FTA, the compliant Euro 6 vehicles required under the plans will enter the vehicle fleet of their own accord as part of the natural fleet replacement cycle.

Euro 6 standard has been mandatory in all new trucks since the beginning of 2014. At the start of 2021, the FTA estimates, based on historic fleet turnover patterns, more than half of the UK truck fleet will be Euro 6. The FTA has proposed alternative measures to tackle air pollution including congestion management, retiming deliveries to avoid morning peaks and incentivising the uptake of alternatively fuelled and electric commercial vehicles.

A spokesman for Clean Air Greater Manchester said: “Greater Manchester is one of many UK authorities instructed to develop a Clean Air Plan to bring levels of harmful nitrogen dioxide (NO2) on local roads within legal limits as soon as possible. “A wide range of measures that could help reduce roadside NO2 levels have been considered, and extensive work carried out to help develop the current proposed package of measures. “We have engaged with the Freight Trade Association and other representative bodies while developing the current Clean Air Plan proposals, and will continue to do so.”

A final business case of the proposal is expected to be completed by the end of the year after.

To find out more online, visit cleanairgm.com/clean-air-plan.

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