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Executive Leader Cllr Brenda Warrington

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Councillor Brenda Warrington, Executive Leader of Tameside Council

Get Ready Now for the GM Clean Air Zone

Friday, 03 December 2021

As you may already be aware, the emergence of the new “Omicron” variant of coronavirus has led the government to announce the reintroduction of protective measures starting from this week.

Face masks are once again compulsory in shops and on public transport, with pupils, staff and visitors in education and childcare settings also strongly advised to wear them in communal areas. All contacts of suspected Omicron cases will be notified by NHS Test and Trace, and required to self-isolate for 10 days regardless of whether they have been vaccinated or not. In addition, anyone entering the UK will now have to take a PCR test within 48 hours of arrival and self-isolate until they return a negative result. Booster jabs, which were previously available for adults over 40, will also now be offered to all adults by the end of January and second vaccination doses rolled out to children aged 12-15.

 

I know this is not the situation any of us wished to face so close to Christmas, but there are concerns among scientists that this new Omicron variant has the potential to be both more infectious and less responsive to vaccines than anything we have encountered so far. Until we know exactly what we’re dealing with, please wear your facemask, get your vaccinations, and do your best to protect yourself and those around you.

This is not the only major piece health related news to come out this week. After a consultation last year and an official signing off by all ten Leaders of the Greater Manchester councils in the summer, the finalised GM Clean Air Plan will officially come into effect on 30 May 2022.

The details of the plan have been discussed previously on this blog, but to briefly recap; the Plan will create a GM-wide Clean Air Zone (CAZ) to reduce the level of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), an air pollutant emitted by vehicle exhausts, on our local roads to within the legal limit by 2024 at the very latest. Not only will this help us play our part in protecting our shared environment, it is estimated that it will prevent the premature deaths of at least 1,200 people a year in the city region.

However, unlike with similar schemes in other cities, the CAZ is not a congestion charge. Only the most polluting commercial vehicles on our most polluted roads will be required to pay, and as of last Tuesday a Financial Support Scheme is now available to help owners upgrade to more modern and less polluting alternatives. The process is simple. Once you visit the GM Clean Air website here you will be asked a series of simple questions that will help you find out if your vehicle is subject to the CAZ charge, whether you might be eligible for an exemption or funding support, and any other relevant information.

 

At the moment the Financial Support Scheme is only available to HGV owners, as these vehicles will be subject to charges as soon as the CAZ launches next year. Funding applications for any other vehicles that may be non-compliant, including licensed private hire vehicles and hackney carriages, coaches, minibuses and vans will launch at the end of January. Letters are also being delivered to registered owners of these vehicles to make them aware of their options and timescales.

In the meantime, we’re continuing to prepare for the launch of CAZ next year by installing cameras with automatic number plate recognition. 160 are already in place, with 850 due to be set up by the time the scheme goes live. New signage for the CAZ is also being introduced in our highways network, both in Greater Manchester and in neighbouring local authority areas.

With the support available to smaller businesses, charities and sole traders, I believe that we are striking the balance to ensure that nobody loses out while the CAZ takes the fight to the climate crisis. We may be facing a global problem, but the solutions are local. Let’s work together to make sure we are doing our part in Tameside and Greater Manchester.

 

Posted by: Executive Leader


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