The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in Greater Manchester has raised an important point recently regarding the proposed introduction of Clean Air Zones in Greater Manchester. On the face of it, this is an agreeable policy, because it seeks to cut carbon emissions and remove dangerous pollution from our air. However, further thought needs to go into the application of this idea.
The proposal would include a new business tax, targeting commercial diesel vehicles of a certain age across Greater Manchester. The proposal could come into effect within 18 months, and non-compliance with the Clean Air Zones could result in a fine of up to £100 per day for larger vehicles.
It is important to replace diesel vehicles and safeguard our environment and I have campaigned for this in the past. However, I would encourage local policy makers to consider the impact of this proposal on my constituents. Research from the FSB has shown that many businesses are currently unaware of the proposed changes, and therefore stand to be caught out. It is vital that this is properly communicated to everybody.
Without communication and staggered regulation, we could see some businesses struggle with unanticipated costs, which could lead to job losses for businesses balancing their books, or even firms going under. It is also worth noting that this proposal is likely to have the harshest impact on those least able to comply with it. Replacing a car can be an expensive process, especially if you rely on your car for work and cannot afford to be without transport whilst you save up.
I would encourage policymakers to consider a staggered approach with high levels of communication to ensure that there is no damage to local people, businesses or the local economy.