August/September 2019

Improving Greater Manchester’s air quality

The beginning of July saw the regular Trafford Park Business Network take place at Event City. Among the presentations that took place, Nigel Smith, Head of Regulatory Services for Trafford Council, outlined the forthcoming Clean Air proposals for Greater Manchester. Nigel started with the observation that pollution from road traffic is linked to a wide range of serious illnesses and conditions, contributing to the equivalent of 1,200 deaths a year in Greater Manchester alone. Many local roads in the region have levels of harmful nitrogen dioxide (NO2) which are above legal limits, and the Government has instructed all local authorities across the UK to take quick action to reduce NO2 emissions, which are mainly produced by older diesel engines. All Greater Manchester local authorities are working together to develop a Clean Air Plan to tackle air pollution on local roads.

What is a Clean Air Zone?
This is a designated area within which certain higher-pollution vehicles would pay a charge (referred to as a daily penalty) to drive. Vehicles which do not comply with the required emissions standards would pay a daily penalty for each day on which they drive into, out of, within or through the Clean Air Zone. Failure to pay the daily penalty would result in the issue of a penalty charge notice (PCN), requiring an additional payment.
A Clean Air Zone is not the same as a Congestion Charging Zone, which charges all vehicles that enter the Zone.

To introduce a charging Clean Air Zone across the whole of Greater Manchester in two phases:
Phase 1: (from 2021) daily penalty for non-compliant HGVs, buses and coaches (£100/day), taxis and private hire vehicles (£7.50/day).
Phase 2: (from 2023) expanding to non-compliant vans, minibuses (£7.50/ day).
Private cars and motorbikes are NOT included in the proposals
Compliant vehicle: Euro 6 (diesel engine); Euro 4 (petrol engine); Ultra low emission vehicles; Exemptions include military vehicles

Help to businesses
A multi-million pound funding package to support local business, including sole traders, to upgrade to cleaner vehicles, will be made available.
Clean Freight Fund: £59m for HGVs, vans, minibuses and coaches registered in GM.
Clean Bus Fund: £29m for operators of registered bus services within GM.
Clean Taxi Fund: £28m for taxis and private hire vehicles licensed in GM.
GM Loan Scheme: Loans at preferential rates to assist with vehicle upgrades.
The indicative funding amounts above are subject to Government approval and further refinement.

Non-compliant vehicles
If no further action is taken, local authorities estimate that if a Clean Air Zone was introduced in 2021 the following number of vehicles in Greater Manchester would pay a daily penalty:
Over 1,100 (58%) of buses
Almost 52,000 (48%) of vans (as of 2023)
1,400 (69%) of taxis
Just over 4,000 (36%) of PHVs
Almost 8,000 (26%) of HGVs

Going electric
The local authorities want to almost treble the number of electric vehicle charging points in the region. Their proposals include a £25 million funding ask to install another 600 rapid charging points (300 double-headed chargers) across the 10 council areas of Greater Manchester. Some of these charging points are planned for use by electric taxis and PHVs only, however, there will also be activity to promote electric vehicles across Greater Manchester.

Greener transport
The proposals aim to help people, businesses, and organisations including schools across Greater Manchester play their part to reduce air pollution. This includes helping people to use their car less, especially for shorter journeys. Also support for businesses to change their fleet so it is cleaner, cycle to work schemes, promoting and supporting car share and car club schemes. There will also be further work to improve cycle lanes and cycle routes across Greater Manchester.

Asks of government
As well as this package of measures there are some actions needed from government. They need to work with vehicle manufacturers to produce clean, compliant electric and low-emission vehicles in the volumes needed for Greater Manchester and other areas. Also a clear instruction needs to be delivered to Highways England with regard to air pollution from the motorway network in Greater Manchester, for which it has responsibility.

Next steps
Between 13 May and 30 June local authorities held a Conversation to get the views on the proposals from residents and businesses across Greater Manchester and beyond. Responses from that Conversation are currently being analysed and the Greater Manchester Clean Air Plan proposals will be developed in more detail over the coming months. From there a statutory consultation will follow, where everyone can have their say on the detailed proposals.

If you wish to share your views you can email

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