With one more week to go until the launch of the Clean Air Zone Financial Support Scheme for Greater Manchester-registered HGV owners on Tuesday 30 November, the city region’s leaders have given an update on the support that is being provided for vehicle financing before the Zone comes into effect on 30 May 2022. 

Vehicle owners can answer a series of simple questions at cleanairgm.com/prepare to find out whether they will need to pay a charge to drive in the Clean Air Zone, if they might be eligible for an exemption or funding support, and further vehicle-specific information regarding their options and timescales. 

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Funding for Greater Manchester-licensed private hire vehicles (PHVs) and hackney carriages, coaches, minibuses and vans (LGVs) will launch at the end of January 2022.  These vehicle owners will also receive letters from early 2022 to notify them of exemptions and funding support available. As well as this, at the end of January next year, those eligible for an exemption would be able to make an application.  

The ten Greater Manchester local authorities are under direction from government to introduce a category C* charging Clean Air Zone, to meet nitrogen dioxide (NO2) legal limits on local roads in the shortest possible time, and by 2024 at the latest. 

Greater Manchester Lead for Clean Air, Councillor Andrew Western, said: “We want to support as many affected vehicle owners as possible to move to cleaner vehicles so they don’t have to pay a daily charge, and I’d encourage people to use the online checker to see if they are affected and find out more about their options. 

“While the Zone is due to launch on 30 May 2022, there will be some temporary local exemptions in place. These will give van, minibus and Greater Manchester-licensed taxi and private hire vehicle owners, and coach operators with vehicles not used on registered bus services, more time to upgrade their vehicle without facing a charge to drive in the Zone until 1 June 2023.” 

Greater Manchester has worked with government’s Joint Air Quality Unit (JAQU) to add the city-region to the national vehicle checking service, which also contains information on other Clean Air Zones in Bath, Birmingham and Portsmouth. 

The Greater Manchester Clean Air Zone will not include private cars, motorbikes and mopeds. However, it will include non-compliant LGVs or vans, HGVs, coaches, buses, hackney cabs, PHVs and minibuses.

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Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said:

“Since national government mandated Greater Manchester to introduce a Clean Air Zone, we have been working to secure as much financial assistance as possible to affected vehicle owners. I urge people to use the online checker tool to find out if they are impacted.

“I want to encourage HGV owners to take advantage of what’s available and to apply as early as possible. The ultimate aim here is that all affected owners avoid a daily charge and make a move to vehicles that are greener, cleaner and much cheaper to run.” 

Financial Support Scheme applications open on 30 November for owners of Greater Manchester-registered HGVs, to give them the maximum amount of time to apply, since they are included in the Zone from its launch. Letters to all registered keepers of non-compliant HGVs based in Greater Manchester will also start being delivered in late November. These will use DVLA data to directly contact the registered keepers of non-compliant HGV who would pay a charge from 30 May 2022, notifying them that funding applications open at the end of the month. 

The first round of funding will aim to support Greater Manchester’s smallest businesses, sole traders and the voluntary sector owning non-compliant vehicles. Financial support will be available as a lump sum grant, contribution towards vehicle financing, or a combination of the two. 

Contracts have been signed with Hampshire Trust Bank and Haydock Finance, RCI Financial Services and Shire Leasing appointing them as financial providers to the Financial Support Scheme. Work is also ongoing to create a network of accredited dealerships that can supply replacement vehicles that meet the emission standards of the Clean Air Zone. 

Councillor Western added: “We’re rolling out one of the biggest Clean Air Zones in Europe and have more than £120m in funding support to help businesses upgrade as soon as possible. I’d urge people to apply early as possible to be in with the best chance of success. 

“Government believes the funding is sufficient to mitigate the impacts of the Zone. However, it has proposed a way forward to review funding and understand what the need may be for future funding requests, which Greater Manchester’s local authorities will be reviewing later in November.” 

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National government has also provided a funding award of £14.7m to retrofit buses running services in Greater Manchester that have engines which don’t meet the Clean Air Zone’s emission standard. The retrofitting for more than 700 vehicles has now started, with 125 buses retrofitted to date. 

Work is also continuing to prepare for the launch of the Zone, with more than 160 automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) enforcement cameras installed to date. The first was installed on Vernon Street in Bolton, with 850 to be in place to enforce any non-payment of daily charges when the Zone is in operation. Clean Air Zone signage is also being introduced on the highways network across the city-region and in neighbouring local authority areas. 

Vehicle owners can use the online checker to see if they are affected and if they might be eligible for an exemption or funding support at cleanairgm.com/prepare