The clean air zone is set to become an established feature in many British regions implications for businesses running HGVs.
Greater Manchester is introducing its own clean air zone (CAZ) on 30 May 2022. This will impact a range of businesses that rely on vehicles to deliver goods and services.
What will the Greater Manchester CAZ involve, and how can you prepare for the changes it will bring?
Why Greater Manchester Needs a Clean Air Zone
Manchester has the highest levels of air pollution in the North West. It has double the national average for hospital admissions due to asthma. Air pollution can cause up to 1,200 premature deaths a year in Greater Manchester. The national total is 41,000.
A clean air zone can limit vehicle emissions and help to reduce air pollution. They can also contribute to the UK reaching its climate goals.
How Does a Clean Air Zone Work?
The principle of a clean air zone is to deter the most polluting vehicles from travelling on the local roads within it.
At the same time, this should act as an incentive for businesses to upgrade their vehicles to cleaner models.
In a clean air zone, the local authority will charge those vehicles that do not meet set emission standards.
Minimum emission standards apply to different vehicle types. Each vehicle’s minimum emission standard should be listed in its logbook, or be available from the manufacturer.
Greater Manchester has announced the daily charges that vehicles not meeting the CAZ emission standards must pay:
· HGVs – £60
· Buses – £60
· Vans – £10
· Coaches – £60
· Minibuses – £10
· Taxis – £7.50.
Most of these charges will come into effect from 30 May 2022. There will be a temporary exemption for most Manchester-licensed taxis until 1 June 2023.
Who Will the Clean Air Zone Affect?
There are around 11,000 non-compliant HGVs and 77,000 non-compliant vans registered in Greater Manchester.
Therefore, the clean air zone is likely to affect large numbers of SMEs.
Even businesses that don’t use HGVs or vans themselves will eventually feel the impact if they rely on suppliers that do.
Why? Because the CAZ daily charge will drive costs up for non-compliant vehicles. A non-compliant HGV could end up paying £26,000 if it was using roads in the zone five days a week.
Many suppliers will have no alternative but to pass these increased costs on.
What Can You Do to Prepare Your Business?
You should certainly make sure you’re familiar with Greater Manchester’s Clean Air Plan before 30 May 2022 and check whether your vehicles will be compliant.
Greater Manchester wants to introduce a Clean Commercial Vehicle Fund, which would provide SMEs, small traders and voluntary sector businesses with discounts when scrapping old vehicles to buy compliant ones.
There may also be the introduction of a Clean Air Loan scheme.
However, if you wish to act sooner, then you should consider the best way to finance upgrading your existing vehicle fleet.
Work out the lifetime costs of any non-compliant vehicles. What will these vehicles be likely to cost you if you use them regularly in the zone? Build this figure into your financial forecasts to work out your business case. You should calculate the cost of not upgrading and paying the daily charges versus the cost of upgrading.
The concept of clean air zones is gaining traction throughout the UK. It’s a clear indicator of which way the wind’s blowing when it comes to your choice of commercial vehicle.
If you wish to explore your financing options, consider asset finance. This alternative funding method enables you to upgrade your vehicles without this impacting your working capital or your existing credit lines.