Manchester mayor Andy Burnham asks government for more time to make changes to Clean Air Zone plan

The plan aims to cut down on pollution from exhausts

Greater Manchester's Metro Mayor has asked the government for more time to make "major changes" to the controversial Clean Air Zone plan because he doesn’t think the area will achieve clean air targets by 2024.

The scheme is due to be introduced across the city region in May in an attempt to reduce harmful air pollution.

However, there are growing calls for a review more funding from central government for drivers affected by it.

Andy Burnham promoting clean transport in Greater Manchester

Andy Burnham met with the Environment Secretary George Eustice on Wednesday.

Speaking to members of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority in Leigh on Friday, the mayor said only Mr Eustice can enable a review, variation or withdrawal of the scheme.

He said, "We are all committed to improving air quality and the health of our residents but we also recognise that major changes are needed to the current scheme.

"I asked the Secretary of State to consider all options, in particular to lift the Government's legal direction on all 10 Greater Manchester councils to provide more time for us to achieve compliance.

"This is because as we have previously articulated we fear the current scheme may not be successful in achieving compliance by 2024, but will cause real hardship to many businesses in Greater Manchester as a result of recent changes to the supply chain and cost inflation."

> 'We're still suffering the full effects of the pandemic': Clean Air Zone causing financial anxiety

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

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

Greater Manchester’s Clean Air Zone has been a topic of debate in recent weeks as residents have been unable to access the vehicles needed to adhere to the rules.

The new CAZ will see buses and heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) being charged £60 to drive into the charging area.

Other vehicles including most taxis, vans and minibuses will pay from £7.50 a day following a one year period of grace.

A Clean Air Zone sign

Greater Manchester’s clean air leaders have called on the government to review the impact of vehicle supply chain issues on the GM Clean Air Plan.

Representatives from Greater Manchester’s 10 councils issued a letter to the Environment Secretary requesting he pause the second phase of Greater Manchester Clean Air Zone (CAZ) funding.

They also called for a "fundamental review" of the terms of the CAZ in order to protect drivers from the charges when they can’t access cleaner vehicles to avoid the costs.