Greater Manchester is asking for £98m of government funding to help local HGV, coach, van and minibus operators upgrade their fleets to Euro-6 standard ahead of the launch of its clean air zone (CAZ) in the spring of 2022.

However the RHA dismissed the funding plans this week as a “very expensive sticking plaster on a misguided government policy”.

Greater Manchester is requesting a total of £150m of government funding as part of its CAZ bid, of which £98m will make up the Clean Commercial Fund.

The fund will provide grants to HGV, van, coach and minibus operators to help upgrade their non-compliant fleets.

The funding bid is revealed in the recently launched Greater Manchester CAZ consultation document. The proposed scheme will be the largest CAZ outside of London, extending across ten local authorities including Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford and Wigan.

Under the Greater Manchester CAZ, non-Euro-6 HGVs and coaches will be charged a daily rate of £60 – this compares to a charge of £10 for vans and minibuses and £7.50 a day for taxis. Private cars are exempt.

Operators with non-compliant fleets will be able to apply for a grant of up to £5,500 per vehicle for either replacement or a as a vehicle finance contribution. This is limited to 10 vehicles per company.

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Alternatively HGV operators can apply for a grant of up to £16,000 per vehicle for retrofit with a limit of five vehicles per applicant.

The retrofit option will offer up to £4,500 for a 44-tonne articulated truck, a maximum of £5,500 for a 32-tonne rigid, up to £4,500 for a 26-tonne vehicle and £3,500 for an 18-tonne vehicle.

The consultation will also take into consideration views on how the Covid-19 pandemic should inform the final decision.

RHA national policy director Duncan Buchanan told “That £98m funding will be split between a lot of firms and there will be rules limiting who is eligible. In addition state aid rules limit any grant to no more than £180,000, so no operator can receive more than that.

“As for retrofit – that is a nonsense - since there are no meaningful retrofit option for HGVs.”

Launching the consultation, which runs for eight weeks to 3 December, councillor Andrew Western, leader of Trafford Council said: “Our Clean Air Plan is an important part of our post-lockdown recovery, cleaning up our commercial vehicles and providing bus operators and hackney carriage and private hire drivers with access to funding to move to a modern, cleaner fleet.

“It will help us reach legal limits of NO2 as soon as possible, by 2024, making our city-region a cleaner, greener place to live, work and grow old - where we can all breathe more easily.

“We’re now asking businesses and residents across Greater Manchester and beyond to give their views and help shape the final plan. At the same time, we are further considering the ongoing impacts of the pandemic.”