Greater Manchester set to become UK's largest Clean Air Zone after government funding is secured

Transport Commissioner Chris Boardman and Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham Credit: TfGM

Greater Manchester is set to become the UK's largest Clean Air Zone after securing government funding to tackle air pollution.

The problem contributed towards at least 1,200 deaths per year in the city region.

Drivers of heavily-polluting vans, buses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles and lorries will be hit with daily charges of between £7.50 and £60 from 30 May 2022 under the plans.

However, the government is giving £120m to support local businesses to upgrade to cleaner, compliant vehicles so they can travel in Greater Manchester without being charged.

The owners of light goods vehicles, taxis and private hire vehicles will be given more time, money and options to upgrade following feedback about the plans and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Metro Mayor Andy Burnham said the plan will protect the most vulnerable, trade and businesses as well as having major health and wellbeing benefits for people living near motorways or major roads in the area.

The city region also announced that bike-share company Beryl has been selected as the delivery partner to design, install and operate a 24/7, public cycle hire scheme made up of an initial 1,500 bikes and e-bikes at over 200 new cycle hire docking stations across Manchester, Trafford and Salford.

The Mayor said the system will be one of the largest docked systems outside London.

Greater Manchester’s Transport Commissioner, Chris Boardman, added: “Today is a major milestone for the city-region – not only do we have a solid plan to make vehicles on our roads cleaner, we’ll soon be bringing cycle hire to our streets – providing a healthy, convenient, non-polluting transport option for tens of thousands of people. Together with our plans for hundreds of miles of cycling and walking routes by 2024, we are building a truly world-leading sustainable transport system.”

Traffic in Greater Manchester Credit: Dave Thompson/PA Archive/PA Images

The Clean Air Zone boundary will cover the whole of Greater Manchester, excluding the strategic road network but including polluted sections of the A628/A57 which pass through the villages of Hollingworth and Mottram.

Leaders from all ten GM local authorities will be asked to endorse the plan on Friday 25 June 2021. This will be followed by approval by individual councils at their meetings.

The government wants nitrogen dioxide levels to be within legal limits on local roads in the shortest possible time, and by 2024 at the latest.

Greater Manchester has set a target of becoming carbon neutral by 2038.