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FSB calls for honesty and transparency over Greater Manchester Clean Air Plan

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has called for more transparency around preparations currently being drawn up as part of a Clean Air Plan in GM. The plan, currently being finalised by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM), could see a raft of measures introduced across GM to reduce pollution levels. 

This could include pollution charging for older diesel vehicles, but preferred alternatives could include increased parking charges at certain times of the day to reduce peak-hour car travel, and even the introduction of a Workplace Parking Levy (WPL) – effectively a tax on car parking spaces owned by businesses. 

The FSB says it is concerned changes being considered could prove damaging to businesses right across the region, and that most GM based businesses are totally unaware about the plans which would prove a significant financial hit for many small firms running older fleets across the region. 

“We need more information about these plans so businesses can start preparing,” said FSB Development Manager for Greater Manchester, Robert Downes. 

“Most businesses – not to mention the general public - are totally unaware this plan even exists, and that there could be some very serious cost implications next year if and when parts of it are adopted. 

“At the moment there appears to be very little public awareness or official engagement about what’s being drawn up, and that’s very concerning for the business community, especially as there are financial implications. The authorities must communicate their intentions much more openly, and ensure before any change there is a meaningful consultation process which will listen to any valid concerns raised.” 

TfGM has said it will have an outline plan of action ready for the Government by January, and that any scheme must in place by 2020 to avoid air quality fines. 

Added Downes: “Business needs time to prepare for any big changes, and there needs to be mechanisms in place to help those firms comply, such as vehicle scrappage schemes. This is very rushed and a lot of businesses will quite rightly be worried. Some clarity would be a very welcome early Christmas present.”