Greater Manchester Clean Air Plan

Greater Manchester is already working hard to tackle harmful air pollution.

In July 2017 the government instructed many areas across the UK to develop Clean Air Plans to tackle high levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) on local roads, including Greater Manchester.

By 2020 more than 250 locations on 152 roads across Greater Manchester are likely to be in breach of legal limits for NO2. You can see where they are on this interactive map.

To tackle this Greater Manchester’s 10 local authorities are working with the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) and Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) to produce a single Clean Air Plan.

We’re developing the plan in close collaboration with Public Health England and the government’s Joint Air Quality Unit.

No decision has yet been taken, but the government has asked us to consider introducing a Clean Air Zone. This would mean some drivers of the most polluting, older vehicles would make a penalty payment to drive in a designated area.

Please read on to find out more about this and how to give us your feedback.

Developing a Clean Air Plan

Greater Manchester is considering a wide range of measures that could help reduce roadside NO2 levels.

We started off with a longlist of 96 different options and used government guidelines to shortlist the most effective measures.

The final Clean Air Plan will need to include a combination of these measures to fix the problem.

We’ve already run detailed modelling to help develop a range of options that combine the measures in different ways.

Further technical work and analysis is still under way, so no decision has been taken yet on which measures will be included in the final Greater Manchester Clean Air Plan.

Considering Clean Air Zones

The government has said that we need to consider introducing a Clean Air Zone, where some drivers of the most polluting, older vehicles would make a penalty payment to drive in a designated area.

Our work so far indicates that a package of measures that includes some form of Clean Air Zone is highly likely to be necessary.

This is because we’re committed to doing what’s best to protect people in Greater Manchester from dirty air, which is damaging our health.

We also need to comply with government guidance and legal rulings to reduce NO2 pollution in the “shortest possible time”. But at the same time we must consider the social and economic impacts of these proposals on people and businesses.

The government has defined four categories of Clean Air Zone – where drivers of the most polluting, older vehicles would pay a penalty for driving in a designated area.

Many vehicles would be compliant and so wouldn’t be liable for a penalty payment:

  • Bus/HGV – Diesel Euro 6 engine (from 2013)
  • Van – Diesel Euro 6 (from 2016)
  • Car/taxi – Diesel Euro 6 (from 2015); Petrol Euro 4 (from 2005)
  • Motorbike/moped – Petrol Euro 3 (from 2007)

The Clean Air Zone categories run from A to D.

A Buses and taxis
B Buses, taxis and HGVs
C Buses, taxis, HGVs and vans
D Buses, taxis, HGVs, vans, cars and motorcycles

Ultra-low emission vehicles – e.g. electric cars and vans – are exempt.

We know that introducing a Clean Air Zone in Greater Manchester could have a significant impact.

We’re currently carrying out further work to consider the effect that different types of Clean Air Zones might have on people, communities and businesses across Greater Manchester.

No decisions will be taken until that work is complete and we have listened to local feedback.

Greater Manchester leaders have said that any Clean Air Zone would need government funding to:

  • Establish financial schemes to help Greater Manchester-based businesses to upgrade or change their vehicles.
  • Pay for the replacement and/or retrofit of non-compliant buses, to safeguard future public transport provision.

Have your say

We’re committed to listening to Greater Manchester people’s views as we develop the Clean Air Plan.

Please get in touch if you want to give us feedback on the different categories of Clean Air Zones and how they might work in Greater Manchester – or if you want to speak to someone about changing or upgrading your vehicle.

We want input from local people and businesses and we will be seeking feedback to help us develop a ‘preferred option’ to tackle high levels of NO2.

If that ‘preferred option’ does include a Clean Air Zone where some drivers would pay to drive in a designated area, there would be a more formal public consultation.

What next?

Work will continue throughout 2019 to finalise the Clean Air Plan. That includes work to:

  • Consider how effectively and quickly the proposed measures would improve air quality, and whether introducing them is technically feasible.
  • Understand the impacts any measures may have on the economy and local communities.
  • Better understand Highways England activity to reduce NO2 on the Strategic Road network (motorways and trunk roads), which they look after, and to encourage greater cooperation in contributing to the Clean Air Plan.

It’s anticipated that the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and 10 local authorities will receive a progress report in spring 2019.

The 10 local authorities will be asked to approve a Clean Air Plan Outline Business Case before a final version is submitted to government.

Greater Manchester is in discussions with government over the deadline for submission of the final Clean Air Plan, but any measures would need to be introduced by 2021.

Once the final plan is agreed, we’ll bid for money from the government’s Clean Air Fund to introduce measures to improve air quality as quickly as possible.

Find out more about work already under way in Greater Manchester to help reduce air pollution.

Download the Clean Air Plan Overview.