Government Introduces The Clean Air Financial Support Scheme

Jack Dreyer | Thursday 15th September 2022 11:58am

Green trees around a river with neon illustrations of environmental icons.

You may well know by now that in order to improve the air quality in built-up areas, local authorities across the UK have been introducing Clean Air Zones to their streets. Over the past few years, London, Bath, Birmingham, and Portsmouth have all introduced these zones. And still to come are Bradford, Bristol, Greater Manchester, Sheffield, Tyneside, and more.

In these zones, drivers of vehicles that exceed the specified amount of emissions are required to pay a fine — 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. However, in response to this, the Government has launched its Clean Air Financial Support Scheme in Greater Manchester. Read on to find out more about the Nation’s Clean Air Zones and their support schemes.

What are the Clean Air Zones laws?

A road sign displays that drivers are now entering a clean air zone and will have to pay a charge.

Clean Air Zones have been introduced across the country in line with the Government’s aim for a net zero of emissions by 2050. In inner city areas — such as Bradford and Bristol — one of the main sources of pollution is road traffic and idling engines and emissions from vehicles have been proved to have negative impacts on human health. So, from the 15th of March 2021 when Bath became the first Clean Air Zone, these Zones have been cropping up across the UK.

By definition, a Clean Air Zone is a specific portion of land that has restrictions applied to it for the highest polluting vehicles. In these zones, cleaner vehicles and public transport will also be encouraged if not subsidised (more on this later). There are four different types of Zones ranging in class from A-D. A only includes buses, coaches, taxis, and private hire vehicles, but D encompasses these and HGVs, vans, minibuses, cars, and even motorcycles (at the discretion of the local authority).

While no vehicles can be banned from driving through a Clean Air Zone, there is a daily charge for any non-compliant vehicles that enter. This charge is what the Clean Air Financial Support Scheme is intended to provide help with.

The Clean Air Zone Financial Support Scheme

On the 30th of May 2022, Greater Manchester was supposed to become a Clean Air Zone. While plans have been somewhat delayed, this is still very much going ahead, with Bradford launching its own Clean Air Zone on the 26th September 2022.

In order to help local businesses and people prepare for the fines associated with Clean Air Zones, a financial support scheme was set up. Initially, this was aimed at helping the smallest of Greater Manchester’s businesses, volunteers and sole traders who owned non-compliant vehicles such as HGVs.

When the Clean Air Zone is in place, this financial support will likely take the form of:

  • A lump sum grant
  • A contribution towards vehicle financing
  • Or a combination of the two

Back in November 2021, letters were sent out to all Greater Manchester residents that owned a non-compliant HGV. However, as of January 2022, non-compliant PHVs (private hire vehicles such as vans, carriages, coaches, and minibuses) can apply for funding too.

According to the Greater Manchester Lead for Clean Air, Councillor Andrew Western, these PHV exemptions will give the drivers of these vehicles “more time to upgrade their vehicle without facing a charge to drive in the Zone until 1 June 2023.” Western continues, “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.

Other financial support means

Verdant living wall as part of building cladding – helping the local environment with air filtration.

Alongside this, in order to achieve its clean air aims, the UK Government has awarded £14.7 million of funding to retrofit Greater Manchester’s buses with engines that have lower emissions — over 125 buses have been retrofitted so far.

Greater Manchester has also obtained £120m of UK Government funding to help eligible owners of non-compliant vehicles upgrade their vehicles altogether. Of this £120m, £7.6m will be used to specifically target those who drive HGVs.

If you live in this area and would like to see if you are eligible for funding from the Clean Air Financial Support Scheme, use GOV.UK’s official vehicle checker here.

What next?

Will other urban areas in the UK adopt this scheme to help their traders and local businesses with the Clean Air Zone fines?

For those who drive in London, there is already the LEZ (Low Emission Zone) and, as of recently, even the ULEZ (Ultra Low Emission Zone) in place to control the amount of harmful emissions in the air.

Look after your car with Kwik Fit

Whether your car produces emissions or not, the experts at Kwik Fit can help you stay compliant and keep your vehicle roadworthy. Simply book in for a regular, van, electric, or hybrid service today to give you that piece of mind.

Or, if you have any questions about your car, get in touch with your local Kwik Fit.

Any facts, figures and prices shown in our blog articles are correct at time of publication.

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