A Clean Air Zone in Greater Manchester was scheduled to launch at the end of May, but was delayed in February after concerns from businesses in the area with petrol and diesel vehicles. There were fears they would not be able to afford electric vehicles and would not be able to receive them in time before the charging zone was set to charge.
Many taxi drivers and companies said the charges created by the CAZ would have destroyed their businesses.
As part of the original plans, vehicles would have been charged between £7.50 and £60 to drive inside one of the 10 Greater Manchester boroughs.
Despite this, the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, has now proposed that no petrol or diesel vehicles be charged to enter the zone.
Speaking at a press conference, Mr Burnham said: “We will not accept a charging Clean Air Zone in Greater Manchester.
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“If that is what the Government wants, it will have to impose it on us.
“We want a non-charging, Category B, Clean Air Zone, help the owners of those vehicles to change those vehicles, don’t hit them with charges.
“Just put the investment in, the incentives to change so that we can clean up the air without threatening jobs or businesses.
“That can be a grant, it can be a loan, it can be help to retrofit that vehicle, so it doesn’t mean you have to buy a new vehicle, some vehicles can have work done to make them compliant.
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“It’s a range of options and it’s about supporting the owners of those vehicles to get the option that’s right for them.”
Mr Burnham, and Cllr Andrew Western, GMCA portfolio lead for Clean Air, have now written to the Environment Secretary, George Eustice, to set out the proposals.
Instead under the new proposals, £120million of Government money will be used to help owners adapt or retrofit their vehicles.
The scheme remains under review, with six weeks left for the city-region to agree a new proposal with the Government.
Previously, all nine Greater Manchester Labour leaders urged Mr Johnson to make the CAZ a “non-charging zone for any vehicles”.
However, writing back eight weeks later, the Prime Minister did not rule out a charging scheme.
In response to Mr Burnham’s plans, Geraldine Goggins, a Green Party councillor on Trafford Council, called for more to be done to curb pollution.
She said: “It looks a little bit like more of the same, that this plan isn’t going to be ambitious.
“Council’s like Trafford could be moving so much faster on making it safe to walk and cycle places, and use alternative ways to get around our city, like vehicle sharing, or using electric cargo bikes.”
The scheme would have seen older taxis and private hire vehicles charged £7.50, a £10 charge for vans and buses and a cost of £60 for buses, HGVs and coaches.
Some emissions-based charging zones have already launched this year, most notably the ambitious Zero Emission Zone in Oxford.
All petrol and diesel vehicles will be charged £2 to drive into the area, with electric vehicles being able to enter the zone without paying.