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Discover the benefits of Clean Air Zones to help improve air quality

What are Clean Air Zones

Clean Air Zones (CAZ) is a defined area of the city that is the focus of activities aimed at improving its air quality. Residents will be charged a daily fee for entry into the zone to encourage their vehicles to be upgraded to meet air quality standards. 

Some local governments have introduced clean air zones in an effort to improve air quality. Drivers whose vehicles exceed emission standards may be charged if they drive in a clean air zone. These charges are to tackle illegal levels of Nitrogen Dioxide (N2O)

There are 4 different groups that clean air zones can be classified as to help charge the correct vehicles depending on how bad the pollution on the road is. They are numbered from A to D, and each group has a variety of vehicles that the authority regions will inspect as they pass through the zones.

Birmingham, for example, is classified as Group D, which includes vehicles ranging from HGVs to individual cars that must adhere to pollution laws or face the congestion charge.

Already, Birmingham, Bath, Portsmouth, and London have a low emission zone. In Addition, there are plans for CAZ to join Manchester, Bradford, Sheffield, Newcastle, and Bristol in 2022. Those living in Greater Manchester can continue to purchase and finance cars since the charges won’t affect privately owned vehicles!

For example, Bradford will be designated a Class C+ Clean Air Zone, which means all non-compliant vehicle types will be subject to charges (the only exception is privately owned vehicles, which will be charged a daily fee if not compliant).

Greater Manchester’s CAZ implementation

Greater Manchester is interesting for Clean Air Zones because of the ongoing issues surrounding it and the backlash it has faced because of the ways it will affect the many different people who live in the 10 authority areas.

The Clean Air Zone will include all of Greater Manchester, excluding its motorways, and will save lives by minimising the effects of air pollution and other respiratory ailments in the city region.

All ten Greater Manchester councils were instructed by the government in March 2020 to implement a Clean Air Zone to tackle harmful air pollution levels and achieve compliance with legal standards by 2024 at the very latest. This was issued in a joint statement by the Mayor of Manchester (Andy Burnam) and Trafford council leader Andrew Western as they acknowledged the need for the area to adhere to legal emission levels. 

It will span ten local authority districts, and buses, HGVs, and some taxis will be charged to enter the zone. Unlike Birmingham’s and London’s low emission, clean air zones, Greater Manchester elected to exempt the region’s 285,000 licensed private cars, as well as mopeds and motorcycles, from the region’s air pollution limitations.

“Everyone in Greater Manchester deserves to breathe clean air but we have always said this cannot be at the expense of those who cannot afford to upgrade their vehicles to make them compliant in this timeframe,” said Andy Burnham.

The issues being faced by those affected

However, the main reason why the Greater Manchester Clean Air Zone is such a contended point of interest is that it poses many new challenges for the public who will be transporting through them. 

Manchester, being a regional hub in the North West of England, sees a high volume of commerce each year, which is mirrored by the number of cars that pass through the ten local authority areas on a daily basis. 

Because of the size and location of Manchester, this also means that many of those passing through are traveling to and from different areas, some of which will be traversing in and out of the Clean Air Zone. An issue that will affect many as they may have to pay for charges that may only temporarily affect their journey. 

Some business owners have even criticised the idea, claiming that they could escape the costs by driving an extra few miles, but this would result in them emitting more carbon into the atmosphere. 

In some organisations, this means choosing between buying new, “expensive” automobiles to avoid the tax or investing in older, used vehicles instead. Something that many smaller companies don’t feel they can afford to do. 

The issues don’t stop there though, one of the biggest challenges faced by companies is the use of different vehicle types. HGVs will have to pay a heftier fine than that of private car hires, but even then for those running smaller taxi companies, the congestion charges may also be damaging to drivers.

In the region, 152 separate stretches of roads emit illegally high levels of nitrogen dioxide, causing 1,000 deaths per year as a result of air pollution. The plans are aimed at reducing air pollution levels in the area. This is why it’s more important to put these plans in place despite the backlash.

Although, despite the health benefits of this incentive, some business owners are scared for their future as they believe they will either have to pay for new, and sometimes costly, vehicles or pay the charges. Despite the upfront expenses paid for new vehicles, the spending will benefit their company and the wider community more.

The Bottom Line…

Businesses need to adapt to change while keeping costs low to be environmentally conscious, but the reality of the climate crisis is setting in hard and fast across the globe.

Although we understand that businesses are struggling, they will continue to fight the uphill battle of global warming, combined with dangerous air quality in the county.  

We must continue with the Clean Air Zone across Greater Manchester in order to reduce the consequences of illegal Nitrogen Dioxide levels across the region. 

Most of the information is taken from the Clean Air Greater Manchester site, visit here: https://cleanairgm.com/clean-air-zone/ for more information.

1 thought on “Discover the benefits of Clean Air Zones to help improve air quality”

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