Manchester Clean Air Zone update expected today as drivers could still face huge daily costs

Manchester Clean Air Zone update expected today as drivers could still face huge daily costs

Andy Burnham fights back against Clean Air Zone plans

Felix Reeves

By Felix Reeves

Published: 20/12/2023

- 11:15

The Government is set to meet with Greater Manchester officials to discuss the future of the Clean Air Zone

A major update is expected today on the future of Greater Manchester’s Clean Air Zone after Mayor Andy Burnham slammed plans to charge drivers earlier this month.

The Greater Manchester Air Quality Administration Committee will meet with the Government today, December 20, to discuss the future of the city’s Clean Air Zone.

According to new modelling, a non-charging scheme would deliver cleaner air faster than if motorists were to be charged inside the zone.

Greater Manchester said it was ready to submit a “compelling” plan for clean air through massive investment in public transport across the region.

Manchester Clean Air Zone sign

Andy Burnham has called on the Government to allow authorities to take down the CAZ signs


This would include an £86.7million investment into the popular Bee Network of electric buses, taxi upgrades and measures to properly manage the flow of traffic in the centre of Manchester and Salford.

Research suggests that a non-charging zone would bring air quality to within legal limits in 2025, whereas a charging scheme would not achieve compliance by 2026, failing to meet the Government's targets.

If plans are to go ahead, the Clean Air Zone would be one of the largest emissions-reducing schemes in the world, even if motorists are not charged.

It would cover an area of 495 square miles and include 10 boroughs - Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford and Wigan.

These 10 areas are legally directed by the Government to reduce the levels of nitrogen dioxide to within legal limits as soon as possible and by 2026 at the latest.

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, said cleaning up the air was a priority for Greater Manchester and supported the use of the Bee Network.

These were the first buses to be brought back under local control in September, with Burnham saying the British-built electric buses would provide new opportunities for residents.

He added: “By accelerating investment in the Bee Network to create a London-style integrated public transport network, and upgrading GM-licensed taxis, we can improve air quality faster than if we introduced a Clean Air Zone, and without causing hardship to our residents or businesses.

“Since the first bus services came under local control, we have listened to feedback to make improvements and deliver change and are already seeing the benefits the Bee Network brings, with more people getting on board with lower fares under a locally controlled service, with new, state-of-the-art electric buses.”

The Mayor also asked the Government to consider allowing authorities in the region to remove charging Clean Air Zone signs that are currently found on roads.

There are believed to be almost 1,200 Clean Air Zone signs around Greater Manchester, with a number of stickers being stuck on them last year to hide the original start date of May 30, 2022.

A decision was made to delay the launch of the Clean Air Zone after residents and businesses in the city found they were unable to access clean vehicles.

Speaking to GB News Political Editor Christopher Hope earlier this year, Andy Burnham praised the work already being done to slash pollution levels.

Under the charging scheme plans, hackney cabs and private hire vehicles would have been charged £7.50 per day, although an exemption was in place for local vehicles until June 2023.


Clean Air Zone sign

The Clean Air Zone in Greater Manchester was originally meant to launch on May 30, 2022


Further charges would have seen vans and light goods vehicles hit with a cost of £10 per day, while owners of HGVs, buses and coaches would have needed to pay £60.

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