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FSB Greater Manchester responds to Clean Air Zone draft proposals

The Federation of Small Businesses responds to today’s publication by TfGM of draft proposals for a Clean Air Zone affecting all of Greater Manchester. 

Commenting, the region’s Development Manager Robert Downes, said: “FSB welcomes the publication of these draft proposals that provide some more clarity for business across GM on how they might be affected at some point in the future. 

“At first glance the proposals suggest the most affected will be operators of non-compliant HGVs, taxis and buses, who realistically will have barely a year to upgrade their fleets once any final plan is signed off to avoid penalty charges. That’s a very narrow timeframe. We’d expect hardship exemptions for smaller businesses that would be severely financially affected, which would be in line with similar schemes in Scotland and elsewhere in Europe. 

“Operators of light good vehicles (LGVs), will have longer - around three years - to prepare, and that seems a more sensible time frame with so many small businesses reliant on LGVs. Users of such vehicles must now use that extra time wisely and look very carefully at how they can make changes in time to avoid fairly stiff penalties. 

“All this is based on Government funding to facilitate change. We now have to wait and see what they come up with – perhaps we’ll know more come the spring Budget?”

But he added: “Clean Air Zone charging is just one tool being suggested by TfGM to reduce pollution levels, so we welcome plans to speed up the roll out of electric charging stations for battery powered vehicles. 

“We are also pleased suggestions such as the Workplace Parking Levy, and increasing car parking charges at peak times to deter private car commuting, are off the table.

Those kind of measures, in addition to CAZ charging, would be unwelcome and unfair - until we have a full integrated public transport system linking all conurbations. 

“FSB Manchester looks forward to working with TfGM and other stakeholders to make sure the voice of our members and the wider small business community is heard and reflected in the final Clean Air Plan.”