Greater Manchester Mayor calls for 'major changes' to controversial Clean Air Zone scheme

The Clean Air Zone will cover all ten boroughs of Greater Manchester.

The proposed Clean Air Zone for Greater Manchester needs "major changes" in order to "protect businesses and jobs", the government has been told.

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham met with Environment Secretary George Eustice on Wednesday, 26 January, to discuss the controversial Clean Air Zone scheme, which will see drivers charged if they enter a certain area.

The pair had a 'constructive meeting' and will meet up again in the next seven to 10 days to discuss changing the way the CAZ will work, Mr Burnham says.

The first few weeks of 2022 have been 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.

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester

Officials have already voted to 'pause' the next phase of funding to help with upgrading vehicles in order to ‘fundamentally review’ the way the scheme will work.

The matter was raised in the House of Commons by Conservative Bury North MP James Daly who questioned leader of the house Jacob Rees-Mogg on a parliamentary debate.

He said: "Approximately three years after submitting the Greater Manchester clean air plan outline business case, the Mayor of Greater Manchester has called for changes to his own plan.

"However, the only change needed is to scrap the scheme in its entirety. Based on flawed analysis and data, we are in the ludicrous position that the most up-to-date air monitoring data for the borough of Bury show no breaches of legal air quality limits anywhere, yet this draconian scheme is still scheduled to begin in May.

"Will my right hon. Friend make time for a debate to allow for much-needed scrutiny of this tax on jobs?"

A statement from Mr Burnham's office, said: "The Mayor of Greater Manchester has had a constructive meeting with the Environment Secretary following the decision of Greater Manchester Councils to refer the current Clean Air Zone back to the Government."

George Eustice, Environment Secretary

He continued: "The Mayor relayed his view, and that of the ten council leaders, that major changes are needed to the scheme to protect businesses and jobs in light of the new emerging evidence about problems in the vehicle market.

"The Secretary of State agreed to meet again with the Mayor in the next 7-10 days to agree a way forward."

Authorities in Greater Manchester cannot amend or suspend the CAZ without the express permission of Mr Eustice.