Manchester looks for solutions to failed CAZ

Greater Manchester’s clean air leaders will meet next week (February 28) to consider the steps towards a new plan for a CAZ, after being granted a delay to the original 30 May date.

Greater Manchester had been legally bound to implement a charging category C Clean Air Zone but appealed the deadline. Its plan exempted all cars from the charge but penalised buses, coaches, HGVs and taxis not to Euro VI. The appeal recognised that there were not enough compliant vehicles and this would not achieve emissions aims.

“Concerns about financial hardship for local people and the availability of compliant vehicles led the Mayor of Greater Manchester and Greater Manchester local authority leaders to ask government to lift its legal direction,” said a press release.

A new government direction now requires Greater Manchester’s ten local authorities to bring nitrogen dioxide on local roads to within legal limits as soon as possible and by no later than 2026. Greater Manchester’s 10 local authorities have until 1 July 2022 to work with government to develop a new plan that will clean up our air while protecting livelihoods.

As well as updating on the latest status of the GM Clean Air Plan, the report to the GM Air Quality Administration Committee – comprising representatives of Greater Manchester’s ten local authorities – asks members to note that:

  • Wording on already installed Clean Air Zone signs stating the original opening date of 30 May 2022 will be covered.
  • ANPR cameras that have been installed will be utilised, under agreement with government, to gather ‘real time’ data to inform the new plan, including monitoring vehicle fleet renewal trends and specific traffic mix at key locations where nitrogen dioxide levels are in breach of legal limits.
  • Applications for funding for light goods vehicles, minibuses, taxis and PHVs, and discounts or exemptions under the previous plan have been paused because of its withdrawal.
  • HGV and bus funding remains open to support people to upgrade and help deliver improved air quality. HGV funding for small businesses is to open from 5pm on the afternoon of Monday 28 February.

More information about how the new plan will be developed will be made available in the coming weeks. Sign up for updates at

BCB says…

Like many CAZs, Greater Manchester’s was never going to deliver on its emissions aims for the simple reason that the buses and coaches it sets out to penalise are not the cause of the pollution – the cars which it was going to allow free rein are the cause.

Buses and coaches are not only the solution to the city’s dirty air crisis, but address the climate crisis. But like many local authorities, Manchester’s were running scared of the car-driving voters – focused more on popularity than pollution. Manchester and other cities could achieve their air quality objectives without CAZs by simply installing significantly more priority lanes, and perhaps creating a workplace parking tax.

It’s literally too much to hope that Andy Burnham embraces logic and creates a city infrastructure which makes bus and coach travel the clear, obvious and economic choice for its commuters, then watches the city’s operators rise to the challenge with more and better services. This would, in fact, be to the benefit of genuinely essential car users as modal shift takes place

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