Greater Manchester’s leaders to consider steps towards new Clean Air Plan for the region

Greater Manchester’s clean air leaders will meet today (February 28) to consider the steps towards a new plan for clean air in the region. A new plan for clean air has to be delivered to the government by July.

It comes after they decided to withdraw their original plan for Clean Air Zone charging, which was due to start in May, but has now been shelved due to Mayor Andy Burnham’s “concerns about financial hardship for local people and the availability of compliant vehicles.”

The city is legally required to take action as it fails to meet air quality standards. One way of doing this is to implement a C Clean Air Zone so that commercial vehicles that don’t meet emission standards pay a daily charge.

A report prepared ahead of the Greater Manchester Air Quality Committee meeting updates members on the government’s withdrawal of a legal direction requiring Greater Manchester to implement a charging category .

Daily charges for the most polluting vehicles that don’t meet emission standards – HGVs, buses, non-Greater Manchester licensed taxis and Private Hire Vehicles (PHVs) – had been due to begin on 30 May 2022 but will now not go ahead.

The withdrawn legal direction would have led to charges for non-compliant vans, Greater Manchester-licensed taxis and private hire vehicles (PHVs) from June 2023. Private cars, motorcycles and mopeds were exempt.

The government agreed with Greater Manchester that the original plan for clean air in Greater Manchester was unworkable within the 2024 timescale and could have created financial hardship for local people due to changes in the availability and affordability of cleaner vehicles. It could not therefore have delivered legal requirements on clean air.

The legal direction would have required Greater Manchester to implement a category C charging Clean Air Zone across the region to comply with the legal limit for nitrogen dioxide on local roads as soon as possible, and by no later than 2024.

A new government direction now requires Greater Manchester’s 10 local authorities to bring nitrogen dioxide on local roads to within legal limits as soon as possible and by no later than 2026.

Greater Manchester’s 10 local authorities have until 1 July 2022 to work with government to “develop a new plan that will clean up our air while protecting livelihoods.”

As well as updating on the latest status of the GM Clean Air Plan, the report to the GM Air Quality Administration Committee – comprising representatives of Greater Manchester’s ten local authorities – asks members to note that:

  • Wording on already installed Clean Air Zone signs stating the original opening date of 30 May 2022 will be covered.
  • ANPR cameras that have been installed will be utilised, under agreement with government, to gather ‘real time’ data to inform the new plan, including monitoring vehicle fleet renewal trends and specific traffic mix at key locations where nitrogen dioxide levels are in breach of legal limits.
  • Applications for funding for light goods vehicles, minibuses, taxis and PHVs, and discounts or exemptions under the previous plan have been paused because of its withdrawal.
  • HGV and bus funding remains open to support people to upgrade and help deliver improved air quality. HGV funding for small businesses is to open from 5pm on the afternoon of Monday 28 February.

Greater Manchester remains committed to cleaning up the air its residents breathe – but in a way that helps people to make the change and does not put jobs, livelihoods and businesses at risk.

High levels of air pollution from road traffic have a major impact on people’s health across Greater Manchester.

Poor air quality contributes to nearly 1,200 premature deaths in Greater Manchester every year[1] and is increasingly seen as a contributor to breathing problems – like asthma – heart disease and some cancers.

A Clean Air Greater Manchester says: “It is important that people are aware of the current status of the Greater Manchester Clean Air Plan.

“Please sign up for updates on the latest information relating to the Greater Manchester Clean Air Plan at www.cleanairgm.com.”    

More information about how the new plan will be developed will be made available in the coming weeks. Sign up for updates at www.cleanairgm.com

[1] : Public Health Outcomes Framework – Data – OHID (phe.org.uk)

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