CONSULTATION: Have your say on clean air plan and taxi standards

Residents and businesses across Tameside are being encouraged to give their views and help shape Greater Manchester’s plans to reduce harmful air pollution on local roads and introduce minimum standards for all taxis and private hire vehicles licensed in the area.

The two GM-wide consultations run until midnight on Thursday 3 December 2020, and people in Tameside can find out more and give their views at cleanairgm.com and gmtaxistandards.com, or request further support, including copies of consultation documentations, on 0161 244 1100.

The websites host a virtual engagement space open 24/7 during the consultation period, given government guidance around social distancing. A series of virtual meetings will also be held.

Government has directed Greater Manchester’s councils to introduce a Category C* Clean Air Zone (CAZ) across the region, to bring nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels on local roads within legal limits in the shortest time possible.

The clean air consultation is asking for views on key elements of the Zone including its proposed boundary, daily charges, discounts and exemptions, and the funding packages to support local businesses to upgrade to cleaner vehicles.

Government has already awarded Greater Manchester £41m initial funding and leaders are seeking more than £100m further funding**, alongside a £10m ‘Hardship fund’ to support those considered most vulnerable to the financial impacts of the CAZ.

The purpose of the CAZ is to improve air quality by encouraging drivers to upgrade to a cleaner vehicle. Non-compliant vehicles would start paying the proposed daily charge when the Zone launches (expected in spring 2022), with the exception of vans and minibuses which will start paying in 2023.

The consultation on proposed Greater Manchester Minimum Licensing Standards (MLS) for taxis and private hire vehicles is running in parallel to ensure as much certainty and clarity as possible for the trade on any proposed changes required to their vehicles.

Tameside Council Executive Leader Councillor Brenda Warrington said: “I urge Tameside residents to have their say by taking part in these important consultations, which will affect everyone across the borough as well as Greater Manchester.

“The Clean Air Plan aims to discourage polluting commercial vehicles from travelling on local roads and encourage businesses to switch to cleaner, low or zero-emission vehicles to reduce NO2 emissions and create a healthier environment.

“Meanwhile, Minimum Licensing Standards will help deliver improved safety, customer focus, higher environmental standards and accessibility for the taxi and private hire trade.”

Taxis and private hire services are a crucial part of the transport network. They provide an important service, particularly for those without access to a car, and people who don’t live or work near the public transport network.

Greater Manchester’s 10 local councils, supported by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM), want to see taxi and private hire services deliver a safe and high-quality experience for everyone, using vehicles that meet high environmental standards. The proposed standards, which would cover drivers, operators and vehicles, and local licensing authorities***, are designed to make sure every journey is safer, reliable and help secure their long-term future.

Greater Manchester is proposing the most generous offer of support for taxis of any clean air zone outside of London – providing total funding of up to £17,500 to help taxi owners upgrade their vehicles.  Funding provision is also being made for private hire vehicles licensed by Greater Manchester local authorities to support the upgrade to cleaner vehicles.

A temporary exemption for wheelchair-accessible taxi and PHVs is also being proposed as well as a ‘Try Before You Buy’ scheme for hackney drivers to test drive electric taxis. Work with the trade is also taking place on the development of a network of taxi and PHV-only electric vehicle charge points.

In addition, Greater Manchester will continue to lobby government to change the law to prevent out of area operation, so only those who are licensed within the city-region, and meet Greater Manchester’s high standards, can drive or operate in the area.

Transport for Greater Manchester is co-ordinating the Clean Air and MLS consultations on behalf of the 10 Greater Manchester local authorities. The findings from the consultation will be used to inform the final proposals next year.

Responses can be made online at cleanairgm.com and gmtaxistandards.com. For support to respond to these consultations or to request copies of the summary documents and questionnaires please email  info@cleanairgm.com or info@gmtaxistandards.com or phone 0161 244 1100. Support for non-English speakers is available on 0161 244 1100.

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