PLANS to impose a daily penalty on the most polluting lorries, vans, buses and taxis using the region’s roads have been pushed back by a year as Greater Manchester finds itself in a “standoff” with government over funding.

The implementation of a Clean Air Zone, which would mean non-compliant commercial vehicles facing fines of up to £100-a-day for using most of the city-region’s roads, has been delayed to 2022 due to the coronavirus crisis.

But Bolton Council leader David Greenhalgh has put some of the blame on a “standoff” between Greater Manchester and the government over money to  clean up vehicles by retrofitting greener engines or replacing them altogether.

The Bolton News:

Bolton Council leader David Greenhalgh at a cabinet meeting on June 29

Cllr Greenhalgh said: “There’s a discussion ongoing between Greater Manchester and government. Government quite clearly want Greater Manchester to come up with a fully-costed proposal inclusive of all sectors on what is needed.

“Greater Manchester want government to come up with how much it is prepared to give and we’ll then come up with the proposals to fit the funds that government will provide.

“There’s a significant difference. One is saying, ‘show me what you’ve got, and we’ll work with it’, the other is saying, ‘no, tell me what you want, and we’ll see if we can give you that’.

“So, it’s two options and at the moment there appears to me, as I’m observing it, a standoff in terms of who is going to present on either side.

“That’s the position on funding. It’s not that it’s not available.”

This comes after the government only committed to giving Greater Manchester £36m for enforcement cameras and “back office costs” to implement the scheme last year despite demands of more than £116m.

The government has now accepted the need for vehicle replacement funds for Hackney Carriages and Light Goods Vehicles, according to a council report.

Money to retrofit buses with cleaner engines and install more electric vehicle charging points across the region could also be funded by the government.

But Conservative councillor Bob Allen, who cast doubt over the effectiveness and viability of the scheme, said the funding requested would not be enough.

He said: “I still see this as congestion charging by the back door and I’ll continue to oppose it.”

The government instructed local authorities to take “quick action” to reduce harmful Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) after losing a series of legal challenges by environmental law charity Client Earth.

But motorways and some major A roads which are managed by Highways England have not received the same instruction to set up a similar scheme.

Under the current proposals for Greater Manchester, heavy goods vehicles, buses and coaches would be charged £100 daily, while taxis, private hire vehicles and light goods vehicles would pay £7.50 per day.

Labour leader Nick Peel accused the government for lacking a national strategy to tackle air pollution, describing its approach as “cack-handed”.