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Executive Leader Cllr Brenda Warrington

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Councillor Brenda Warrington, Executive Leader of Tameside Council

Have Your Say on Protecting Our Air

Friday, 09 October 2020


The coronavirus pandemic has thrown a spotlight on the importance of health in all its forms. While reducing the number of infections remains the highest priority at the moment, there are other areas that are vital to public health that should not be neglected. Last week I discussed the importance of those who are entitled to them continuing to receive their free flu vaccinations, and this week Greater Manchester has launched an eight week consultation on our Clean Air Plan.

The dangers of dirty air can sometimes be hidden, but they must be taken seriously. Air pollution is believed to contribute to the deaths of 1,200 people every year in Greater Manchester, often through exacerbating serious pre-existing conditions such as asthma or heart and lung diseases. The youngest, the oldest and the most deprived in our society are also more likely to fall victim to this silent killer. Across the whole of Europe, it is estimated that dirty air causes more deaths a year than tobacco smoking.

By any standard, protecting the air that we all breathe is one of the most urgent public health challenges outside of coronavirus that we face today, and it is an issue that I have taken seriously since I became Leader. We organised the first ever Tameside Green Summit, which brought together local residents, businesses and climate experts to talk about how we could help each other to commit to real action on protecting our shared environment. This led to a number of important steps including switching our corporate energy contract over to a green supplier, planting thousands of trees across the borough and committing to improving the energy-efficiency of council buildings whenever possible.

But dirty air is a problem that pays no heed to borders or boundaries. In Greater Manchester we know that it is not a Tameside challenge, nor a Salford challenge or a Trafford challenge, it is a challenge that needs to be faced together.
 
Despite our shared industrial past, the days of choking smog and industrial chimneys over the Greater Manchester skyline are long gone. In the 21st century the greatest danger is from emissions from vehicles, in particular nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter that can get into the lungs.

The Clean Air Plan comes in two parts. The first is the creation of a Greater Manchester-wide Clean Air Zone, specifically targeted at the roads in the city region with the highest levels of NO2 pollution. The full map can be found here. From spring 2022 commercial vehicles will be required to pay a daily charge to travel on these roads, with failure to pay resulting in a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) of £120.

 

The current proposed fees are, £7.50 for taxis and private hire vehicles, £60 for lorries, buses, coaches and other heavy vehicles, and from 2023 there will also be £10 charge for lighter vehicles such as van and minibuses.  Private cars, motorbikes and mopeds will not be subject to the charge, and exemptions will be issued for historic vehicles, military vehicles, disabled passenger vehicles and emergency services.

The second part of the plan is an unprecedented £150 million package of funding for residents and businesses. This money will cover financial help, either as a lump sum grant or contribution towards vehicle financing, to upgrade their commercial vehicles, taxis and buses before the Clean Air Zone is introduced. There will also be additional investment in electric vehicle infrastructure and a Hardship Fund for those who have been particularly affected by the changes. 

The consultation runs from now until 3rd December, and I would recommend that anybody who thinks that they will be affected by the proposals should let us know their views. An online version of the consultation can be found here. Once complete, all responses will be carefully analysed to create our final Clean Air Plan which will then be submitted to local councils and the government for approval. Help us make sure that your voice is heard as we work to protect our shared environment, now and for the future.

 

Posted by: Executive Leader


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