Fears clean air plans will hit equestrians hard financially *H&H Plus*

  • Proposals designed to improve air quality in areas including Greater Manchester, Greater London, Birmingham and Leeds could leave horsebox owners facing daily charges of up to £300. H&H finds out more...

    CHANGES to clean air proposals and low emission zones in parts of the UK could affect riders and venues – with some horsebox users facing up to £300 daily charges.

    Changes have been announced to Government plans aimed at improving air quality in areas including Greater Manchester, Greater London, Birmingham and Leeds, by reducing vehicle emissions and introducing daily charges for non-compliant vehicles, including horseboxes in designated zones (news, 27 June 2019).

    Transport for London (TfL) announced that from 1 March 2021, the Greater London low emission zone (LEZ) standards will become “tougher” for heavier vehicles – previously, vehicles over 3.5 tonnes, including horseboxes, had to pay £200 daily if they did not meet the Euro IV standard to drive on all roads in Greater London but not the M25.

    Now, those who do not meet the more stringent Euro VI standard must pay a daily £100, and vehicles that do not meet Euro IV must pay £300. For horseboxes under 3.5 tonnes, a charge of £100 must be paid if they do not meet the Euro 3 standard – this remains unchanged.

    Mary Garrett, owner of Aldborough Hall Equestrian Centre, Essex, told H&H the centre had to stop hosting British Dressage competitions when the LEZ launched in 2008 owing to the financial impact on competitors.

    “The LEZ has affected us quite dramatically,” she said. “People wouldn’t pay the charges and we had to close down the shows, which was very sad.”

    Charlie McMillan, owner of Frith Manor Equestrian Centre in north London, told H&H LEZ charges have affected the yard and others in the area “enormously”.

    “It’s not just a problem for horseboxes coming in – deliveries are often delayed or can’t come on a certain day because companies want to coordinate with their other deliveries so they don’t pay a huge fee,” she said.

    A spokesman for TfL told H&H the increased measures were “vital” to cleaning up the capital’s toxic air.

    “Heavy vehicles, whether used for business or leisure, contribute a significant proportion of road-based emissions,” he said.

    Greater Manchester clean air zone

    Proposals for the Greater Manchester clean air zone are moving ahead with the launch of an eight-week public consultation from 8 October.

    The consultation is a follow-up to a survey last summer and the new proposals include a reduced daily fee of £60 from £100 for non-compliant vehicles over 3.5 tonnes, and an increased fee of £10 (from £7.50) for those under.

    Other proposals include a discounted rate of £10 per day for “leisure vehicles”, which includes horseboxes over 3.5 tonnes, registered to addresses in Greater Manchester, and registered for no less than 12 months. Evidence must be provided that shows the vehicle is not in commercial use, such as an insurance document that would not contain commercial cover.

    Rider Helena Pixton told H&H that even with the reduced charge of £60, the proposals will have a big impact on the industry.

    “What is going to be the incentive for people who live just over the border in Lancashire or Cheshire to travel to a show centre in Greater Manchester? People will say, ‘I might as well go the other way’,” she said.

    “We know the proposals are not aimed at equestrians but we are caught in the crosshairs. People think it won’t happen or don’t realise the charges will apply to horseboxes, but we all need to take part in the consultation.”

    A spokesman for Transport for Greater Manchester told H&H the daily charges had been modified since the 2019 survey due to a “better understanding” of the vehicle fleets in Greater Manchester and a “range of options” had been tested to identify the lowest, most effective charge.

    “The charge would only be payable on the days a non-compliant vehicle travels into or through the zone and so this may be an occasional cost for visitors to equestrian venues,” said the spokesman.

    “We welcome feedback in the consultation at cleanairgm.com.”

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