All you need to know about Greater Manchester's Clean Air Zone and who will be charged

A Clean Air Zone is being introduced into Greater Manchester in a bid to reduce harmful air pollution in the region.

Commercial and passenger vehicles deemed as 'most polluting' will have to pay a daily charge to travel in the Zone, which will come into force from 30 May 2022.

It is hoped it will reduce nitrogen dioxide air pollution at the roadside, bringing it down to within legal limits.

But serious concerns have been raised about it, with the first few weeks of 2022 dominated by complaints about the proposed zone.

Taxi drivers and small business owners say the additional charges created by the CAZ could kill their business but have complained that they are not being offered enough assistance to buy new lower-emission vehicles.

What area will it cover?

The zone will cover all 10 boroughs of Greater Manchester - Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford and Wigan.

It includes local roads, but does not include motorways and major trunk roads which are managed by National Highways.

A more detailed map, and some road exemptions can be found here.

The Clean Air Zone would cover all 10 boroughs of Manchester - with the purple lines representing roads not included. Credit: OS/Clean Air Greater Manchester

When will it operate?

The Zone will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, all year.

Signs will be installed to show when drivers are entering the Zone and enable those to find alternative routes.

What are the charges?

You can check if your vehicle is affected here.

Who will have to pay?

Vehicles that do not meet emissions standards (known as non-compliant vehicles) will be charged to drive in the Clean Air Zone.

Private cars, motorbikes and mopeds will not be affected.

Some vehicles are also exempt from the daily charge. The government’s Clean Air Zone Framework sets permanent exemptions for historic vehicles, military vehicles, disabled passenger vehicles, and specialist emergency service vehicles.

There will also be some local temporary and permanent exemptions and permanent discounts for the Greater Manchester-wide Clean Air Zone. Owners or registered keepers of eligible non-compliant vehicles will be able to apply for a temporary exemption from January 2022.

It is hoped the proposed Clean Air Zone (CAZ) will take the most polluting vehicles off the roads and reduce nitrogen dioxide levels. Credit: PA Images

How do you pay?

One charge would be imposed per vehicle, per day - running from midnight to midnight, however much a vehicle drives within the Zone in that 24-hour period. It will be enforced using a network of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras.

Charges can be paid via a central government payment portal.

It is hoped drivers will be able to pay seven days in advance - including the journey date - or seven days retrospectively - including the journey date.

If the daily charge is not paid there will be a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) of £120 in addition to the unpaid daily charge. This would be reduced to £60 if paid within 14 days.

What financial schemes are available?

Government funding is available to help eligible people, businesses and organisations either replace or retrofit non-compliant vehicles so that they meet emissions standards.

The Clean Air Financial Support Scheme is currently open to applications from eligible heavy goods vehicle (HGV) owners, with applications for other vehicle owners due to open in late January 2022.

Funding will initially be targeted to support micro-businesses, sole traders, the voluntary sector and private owners to upgrade to compliant vehicles.

Financial support will be available as a lump sum grant, contribution towards vehicle financing, or a combination of the two.

The amount of support available will depend on the vehicle type and size.