'We're still suffering the full effects of the pandemic': Clean Air Zone causing financial anxiety

  • Victoria Grimes speaks to a coach operator in Cheadle who says the CAZ will impact his business.

The owner of a coach operator in Cheadle says the introduction of the Greater Manchester Clean Air Zone will cost the business £4,000,000 to upgrade its fleet of vehicles. He says it's either that or pay £60 each time a coach leaves the yard.

Elite Services Ltd and Carsville Coaches is a family run businesses that has been transporting customers for more than 40 years.

Sam Nickson is worried that customers are going to have to absorb the cost which he says doesn't bode well for the future.

Sam Nickson: Elite Services Ltd and Carsville Coaches has been a family run business for more than forty years.

Sam said: "There's going to be less school trips as a result and less customers travelling for the home to school runs which will mean more cars on the road. It's quite disastrous really.

"We're still suffering the effects of the pandemic. The coaches are still not out as much as they should be so we can't afford to go down the road of upgrading our fleet. There are also massive supply chain issues too."

There are growing calls for a review of the government’s policy regarding the roll-out of the Greater Manchester-wide Clean Air Zone, as well as more central government funding for drivers affected by it.

Greater Manchester’s Clean Air Zone has been a topic of debate in recent weeks as residents have been unable to access the vehicles needed to adhere to the rules. The new CAZ is set to launch in May and will see buses and heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) being charged £60 to drive into the charging area.

Other vehicles including most taxis, vans and minibuses will be charged from £7.50 per day after a one year “grace-period”.

Greater Manchester’s clean air leaders have called on the Government to review the impact of vehicle supply chain issues on the GM Clean Air Plan.

Representatives from Greater Manchester’s 10 councils issued a letter to the Environment Secretary George Eustice, requesting he pause the second phase of Greater Manchester Clean Air Zone (CAZ) funding.

Map of Greater Manchester Clean Air Zone

They also called for a "fundamental review" of the terms of the CAZ in order to protect drivers from the charges when they can’t access cleaner vehicles to avoid the costs.

Sam says: "I am really worried about the the business and I am worried about our customers who will be forced to absorb the prices. I don't think it's fair and I think the people in the know need to do more research and look at the implication.

"I think we'll survive but it really needs looking at."

The Greater Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham, says 'major changes' are needed to fix the hugely controversial Clean Air Zone.

Greater Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham

Mr Burnham met with Environment Secretary George Eustice on Wednesday (January 26) to discuss the scheme.

The pair had a 'constructive meeting' and will meet up again in the next seven to ten days to discuss changing the way the CAZ will work, Mr Burnham says.

George Eustice, Environment Secretary

Taxi drivers and small business owners say the additional charges created by the CAZ could kill their business but have complained that they are not being offered enough assistance to buy new lower-emission vehicles.