Greater Manchester Clean Air Plan

A new Clean Air Plan

Cleaning up our air

Like many areas across the country, Greater Manchester has illegal levels of air pollution on some local roads. Poor air quality affects everyone’s health, particularly the most vulnerable people in society. That includes deprived communities, children, elderly people and those with chronic conditions like asthma, heart disease, stroke and some cancers. It contributes to nearly 1,200 premature deaths in Greater Manchester every year. 

We’re committed to cleaning up the air our residents breathe. We plan to do this in a way that encourages a change to cleaner vehicles without putting jobs, livelihoods and businesses at risk. 

Why no Clean Air Zone? 

You might have seen signs for a Clean Air Zone on our roads. That’s because our first Clean Air Plan included plans for a Greater Manchester-wide category C charging Clean Air Zone.  

But following the pandemic, government agreed that this charging Clean Air Zone would NOT be introduced on 30 May 2022.  

That’s because the pandemic resulted in significant vehicle supply chain issues, rising vehicle prices, and a cost-of-living crisis. The original Clean Air Plan was no longer the right solution and could have caused significant financial hardship.  

At the same time, it would not have met the government’s legal direction (issued before the pandemic) to tackle harmful nitrogen dioxide on local roads by 2024. 

Our new investment-led plan does not include a charging-Clean Air Zone. 

Case for a new Clean Air Plan

Government has directed Greater Manchester to meet legal limits for nitrogen dioxide on local roads “in the shortest possible time” and by 2026 at the latest.  

Greater Manchester’s investment-led Clean Air Plan aims to clean up the air we all breathe without a charging Clean Air Zone. We don’t want it to add to the cost-of-living crisis, harming local businesses or our economy.  

Private cars, motorbikes and mopeds are NOT included in the case for the non-charging GM CAP. 

The investment-led plan outlines:

  • Targeting the most polluted areas: Modelling shows that NO₂ exceedances become more localised from 2025 onwards, with breaches only forecast at specific locations in Manchester, Salford and Bury. As a result, action can be targeted at those locations suffering the worst air quality. 

  • Targeted funding: Using the £120 million government Clean Air funding already awarded for vehicle upgrades, rather than imposing daily charges. Funding will be targeted to clean up the most polluting vehicles that travel frequently on the most polluted local roads. These are roads that are predicted to exceed legal limits for nitrogen dioxide if we don’t take action. 

  • Cleaning up polluting buses: Nearly 90 per cent of Greater Manchester’s bus fleet already meets government emission standards thanks to the government Clean Air Bus fund. Other funding means that 100 new zero emission buses will roll out when the first regulated bus services are introduced in Wigan and Bury from September 2023. A further 170 zero-emission buses are due to run from Stockport by 2024. 

  • Local policy changes: We will review local policies (such as goods vehicle access controls) as well as regulatory measures (such as hackney carriage and private hire vehicle licensing standards) to speed up fleet upgrades. 

Latest status of the Clean Air Plan

In January 2023, government asked for additional evidence to support Greater Manchester’s case for an investment-led, non-charging Clean Air Plan.  

  • Initial evidence: We have submitted initial evidence showing how investment in zero-emission buses will help GM meet legal limits for nitrogen dioxide on the A58 Bolton Road in Bury with the launch of regulated bus services in Wigan and Bolton. 

  • Further evidence: Greater Manchester leaders do not believe a charging Clean Air Zone is necessary. However, government has asked GM to provide modelling to understand how GM’s case for an investment-led, non-charging Clean Air Plan performs (in terms of delivering compliance with legal nitrogen dioxide levels) against the ‘benchmark’ of a charging Clean Air Zone to address the nitrogen dioxide exceedances identified in central Manchester and Salford. 

Next steps

We expect to provide the additional evidence, which requires detailed modelling, to government by the end of June 2023. 

Once we have had full, formal government feedback on our Clean Air Plan following the submission of this additional evidence, we will consider timescales for a public consultation on the plan.

Financial support to upgrade to cleaner vehicles

£120 million government funding was secured under the original Clean Air Plan. This was to help eligible vehicle owners (whose vehicles would be ‘non-compliant’ under former plans for a category C charging Clean Air Zone) to upgrade to cleaner, compliant vehicles. Government has agreed that this Clean Air Zone will not go ahead. But the funding will be available for the new Clean Air Plan. 

Funding support for buses and HGVs 

Funding applications for HGVs (including small businesses) and buses were already open before government agreed plans for a charging Clean Air Zone would not go ahead.  

We have kept applications open for eligible vehicle owners to upgrade and help improve air quality.  

To register for bus funding, visit the Clean Bus Fund portal

To apply for HGV funding, visit the Financial Support Scheme portal

Applications for HGV funding are open to all eligible vehicle owners, including small businesses. Please read the key facts information and terms and conditions before starting your HGV application. If your funding application has already been approved, you can source a compliant replacement HGV vehicle from accredited dealerships only. 

Funding for other vehicles 

Funding under the previous Clean Air Plan did not open as planned at the end of January 2022 (for eligible owners of LGVs, minibuses, coaches not used on a registered bus service, and hackney carriages and private hire vehicles licensed in GM). 

The delivery of Clean Air funding support for other vehicles is under review. We are working with local people, businesses and organisations to make sure government funding is used in the best way in support of an investment-led plan.  

Eligible vehicle owners who had already placed orders (in preparation for the opening of these funds) can contact CleanAirGM for advice, to ensure they are not negatively affected. 

Please sign up for updates on future funding. 

What can I do to help reduce air pollution?

Are you contributing to air pollution? There are plenty of ways we can all help reduce air pollution. The single biggest thing we can all do is drive less, where possible.

See our suggestions for more simple changes you can make to reduce and avoid air pollution.

Changes you can make

Sign up for updates

Keep up to date with the latest Clean Air Plan news.

Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) is the Data Controller of personal information provided in this form.

Technical documents, reports and FAQs