Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) and the Government have announced that Manchester’s clean air zone (CAZ) has been put on hold to find a solution that is fairer to local businesses and residents.
Greater Manchester “Clean Air Zone” start delayed
A ‘Category C’ charging clean air zone (CAZ) covering Greater Manchester was due to launch from 30th May 2022. This would operate seven days a week, 24 hours a day.
Non-compliant coaches and HGVs would face charges of £60 to enter the zone. Meanwhile, there is a temporary exemption for Greater Manchester-licensed vehicles until May 31, 2023.
Charges were due to be based on vehicles meeting certain emission standards. This includes Euro6/VI or better for diesel engines, and Euro4 or better for petrol.
Older vans and minibuses would also get an exemption until the same date but would face charges of £10 thereafter. To be exempt beyond 30th May 2023 vans generally would have to register before 2016 for diesel engines. Petrol engines would have to register before 2005.
Taxis and private hire vehicles would face chargers of £7.50. This includes temporary exemption for Greater Manchester-licensed vehicles until May 31, 2023.
However, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, have announced that they’ll look again at how best to improve air quality in the region, with new plans due for unveiling by the middle of this year.
Joint Statement from the Environmental Minister, the Mayor of Greater Manchester and GMCA
A joint statement from environment minister Jo Churchill, the Mayor of Greater Manchester and GMCA portfolio lead for clean air, Cllr Andrew Western, said that they had met and had further “robust and constructive” discussions (on Friday, February 4) to find a solution.
“Air quality is one of our biggest health challenges and we are all completely committed to tackling it,” the statement read.
“We have agreed to a short time-limited pause. We’ll work together to deliver, by the middle of the year, a plan for clean air for Greater Manchester, one that is fair to the businesses and residents of the city-region.
“We will deliver improved air quality as soon as possible, not losing ambition but ensuring we take into account the pandemic, global supply chain challenges, improvements already baked into retrofits and the scope as previously laid out.
“We’ll now work jointly to meet the Greater Manchester and Government requirements on clean air, as soon as possible, and no later than 2026.”
The region had secured £120 million in Government funding to help fleets upgrade to cleaner, compliant vehicles.
Last month, Burnham asked the Government to pause funding to upgrade vans, taxis, coaches and minibuses to cleaner models, with operators unable to access new vehicles and record prices in the used market. The shortage of vans was due to a lack of component parts as a result of the pandemic and Brexit. This had also resulted in second-hand prices increasing dramatically.
HGV and bus funding remains open to support people to upgrade and help deliver air quality.
The majority of the CAZ infrastructure work is complete. With the signs and cameras already put into position around the Greater Manchester borders. There is consideration of utilising the cameras to gather ‘real time’ data to inform the new plan. This includes monitoring vehicle fleet renewal trends. In addition to this, specific traffic mix at key locations will also have a monitoring system. This is where nitrogen dioxide levels are in breach of legal limits.
We will now have to wait until the summer to hear what Plan B will entail. We will be posting further information once announced later in the year.