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

The 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. 

We aim to clean up the air we all breathe through an investment-led Clean Air Plan that does not include a charging Clean Air Zone.

We don’t want it to add to the cost-of-living crisis, harming local businesses or our economy. 

Our investment-led plan will:

  • Target funding towards the most polluting vehicles travelling in locations with nitrogen dioxide levels above the legal limit.

  • Reduce emissions and bring health benefits as quickly as possible from every funded vehicle upgrade.

  • Take into account the benefit of delivering the transformational Bee Network and investment in zero-emission bus fleets that wasn’t available to Greater Manchester when it agreed the previous Clean Air Plan in summer 2021.

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

Cleaning up our buses

In April 2023, government announced a review of its national bus retrofit programme, due to conclude in autumn 2023. Their early research has revealed that retrofitting buses with emission-reducing technology has delivered ‘variable’ results.

We need to work with government to understand how this affects the Greater Manchester Clean Air Plan.

Greater Manchester has made cleaning up its bus fleet a priority. We have already used government Clean Bus Funds to retrofit more than half of the region’s buses.

By March 2023, nearly 90% of the Greater Manchester bus fleet met government Clean Air Zone standards. This is compared to 10% prior to the retrofit programme starting in 2018.

Latest Clean Air Plan status

In January 2023, government asked for us more evidence to support our case for an investment-led, non-charging Clean Air Plan:

Initial evidence (submitted March 2023): Evidence showing how investment in zero-emission buses will help meet legal limits for nitrogen dioxide on the A58 Bolton Road in Bury (with the launch of regulated Bee Network bus services from September 2023). 

Further evidence (was expected June 2023): Extra modelling to understand how GM’s plan to meet nitrogen dioxide limits performs against the ‘benchmark’ of a charging Clean Air Zone to address the exceedances identified in central Manchester and Salford.

Due to the government’s review of its bus retrofit programme both sets of requested evidence will need further work by Greater Manchester.

Next steps

We continue to work with government to ensure Greater Manchester has an agreed Clean Air Plan as soon as possible.

Due to its bus retrofit review, the government has given Greater Manchester and other authorities new guidance for air quality modelling. We need to include this guidance in our work before submitting further evidence to government.

Greater Manchester leaders have written to the Environment Secretary seeking to request that modelling for the Clean Air Plan takes into account their bus retrofit review study findings, due to conclude in autumn 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 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. 

We have now paused the roll out of bus retrofit funding pending the outcome of a government review. In the meantime, to apply for bus replacement funding, visit the Clean Bus Fund portal

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

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