No ULEZ-style clean air charging zone for Lancashire, county councillor pledges
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Aidy Riggott, Lancashire County Council’s cabinet member for economic development and growth, made the commitment at a meeting of the authority as he responded to a question about the current status of Greater Manchester’s clean air plans and their potential impact on Lancashire residents.
The 10 council areas that make up Greater Manchester last year intended to begin charging vans, taxis, HGVs and buses a daily fee for travelling within the conurbation if they did not meet certain emissions standards.
Although private cars were to be exempt, the policy raised concerns amongst some businesses based close to Lancshire’s border with the city region, because they would not have been eligible for the financial assistance that was going to be on offer to Mancunians to upgrade their motors to cleaner models - in spite of the fact that they regularly have to travel into what would have been the charging zone.
The rollout of the scheme was paused after a public backlash within Greater Manchester itself and the area’s transport bosses are now proposing to rely on a vehicle replacement support fund in order to meet legal limits for nitrogen dioxide by trying to take the most polluting engines - again, not including private cars and motorbikes - off the road.
County Cllr Riggott told the meeting at County Hall that Lancashire drivers from boroughs on the border with Greater Manchester were still unlikely to be able to access any funding that is made available under the proposed new scheme, the exact shape of which is yet to be confirmed.
However, questioned on the subject of whether charging zones would ever come to Lancashire’s own roads, he said: “While the Conservatives are in charge at County Hall, no such scheme will be introduced, I assure you of that.”
County Cllr Riggott also called for the immediate removal of the warning signs that were erected in Lancashire districts like Chorley and Rossendale advising them of the then forthcoming clean air zone in neighbouring Greater Manchester - and which have since had the words “under review” attached to them.
Clean air zones have become a politically charged issue across the country, with not only widespread opposition to the now scrapped Greater Manchester scheme, but also reaction to the recent expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) by London mayor Sadiq Khan which was widely blamed for Labour failing to snatch Boris Johnson’s former Commons seat of Uxbridge and South Ruislip in a by-election in July.