How will planned low-emission zones in Greater Manchester and other areas affect riders, and what mitigation measures are in place? H&H finds out
CLEAN air zone proposals have been finalised for Greater Manchester including funding towards upgrading non-compliant vehicles – but equestrians say the support is not enough.
Following the announcement a clean air zone would be created in Greater Manchester as part of the Government’s plans to improve air quality, and subsequent public consultation (news, 8 October), Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) has published its final plans which have been put to the area’s 10 local authorities for approval.
From 30 May 2022, non-compliant vehicles – including horseboxes – over 3.5 tonnes must pay £60 per day to drive in the zone. Private vehicles registered to Greater Manchester owners can apply for a discounted charge of £10 per day. Non-compliant vehicles under 3.5 tonnes must pay £10 per day, which has been delayed until 1 June 2023.
Under the plans, £87.9m of Government funding has been made available to help people upgrade non-compliant vehicles or buy replacements. Up to £7,000 is available for owners of vehicles from 7.5 to 18 tonnes, up to £5,000 for 3.5-7.5-tonne vehicles and up to £4,500 for 3.5-tonne vehicles classed as light goods vehicles by the DVLA.
A TfGM spokesman confirmed to H&H owners of horseboxes registered in Greater Manchester that meet certain criteria, based on the size and classification of the vehicle, are eligible to apply and applications are expected to open from November 2021.
Bury-based rider Helena Pixton, who took part in the consultation, told H&H the funding and discounts do not go far enough.
“I don’t think they are taking into account that you would usually expect your existing box to contribute to buying a new one, but who is going to buy your old box now if it’s not compliant? It’s worth scrap,” she said.
“You can apply for the discount if you live in Greater Manchester, but the plans are going to put off people who don’t live here from coming to use equestrian facilities so that leaves centres with a problem.”
Stephen Hague, owner of Dean Valley Equestrian Centre which hosts British Showjumping competitions, told H&H he is “very concerned”.
“We have a lot of clients that come from Yorkshire, Scotland, Derbyshire – anyone getting here will have to come through Greater Manchester, so it’s a massive problem for us,” he said.
“If it has the impact we’re expecting it will close us down. On a good day we can jump 220 horses – on a bad day we still have more than 100. If three-quarters of those people can’t come then it’s not viable to run. That’s the situation we’re in and we can’t do anything about it.”
Other cities with low-emission and clean-air zones include London and Bath, while more are planned across the UK, including in Portsmouth, Glasgow and Edinburgh. In Bath exemptions for horseboxes include a reduced charge of £9 per day instead of £100 for non-compliant vehicles over 3.5 tonne and classed as private heavy goods vehicles.
In Portsmouth non-compliant horseboxes over 3.5 tonnes are exempt from paying the daily charge for up to 10 days per year. Veterinary ambulances have a lifetime exemption and horseboxes under 3.5 tonne are not charged.
“The Government-imposed clean air zone that charges certain older, more polluting vehicles is just one of the ways we are improving air quality in Portsmouth. As part of this, it’s important that we consider the needs of all vehicle owners,” councillor Dave Ashmore, Portsmouth cabinet member for safety and environment, told H&H.
“During our research, we identified there was an important route through Portsmouth from the Isle of Wight for horse owners to get their animals to specialist hospitals on the mainland. With this in mind we have made some exceptions for these types of vehicles.”
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