Clean Air Plan FAQs

Like many areas across the country, we have illegal levels of air pollution on local roads across all ten local authority areas in Greater Manchester (GM).

Government has agreed that the originally planned Greater Manchester charging Clean Air Zone will not go ahead on 30 May 2022. We're now working with government to deliver a new Clean Air Plan for Greater Manchester by July 2022.

The new plan will outline how compliance with clean air legislation in Greater Manchester can be delivered as soon as possible and by no later than 2026.  

Read our frequently asked questions below for more information.

Current status of the Greater Manchester Clean Air Zone

No. The Greater Manchester Clean Air Zone will now not go live on 30 May 2022 as originally publicised. Government and Greater Manchester have agreed to deliver a new plan for clean air by 1 July 2022. The new plan will outline how compliance with legal limits for nitrogen dioxide in Greater Manchester can be delivered as soon as possible and by no later than 2026.

We are committed to cleaning up the air our residents breathe but we need a plan that is deliverable for our businesses. Our research shows us that the pandemic had a significant impact on the availability and price of replacement, compliant commercial vehicles, particularly van, that we cannot ignore. By bringing in changes we can continue to clean the air in a way that helps people to make the change and does not put jobs, livelihoods and businesses at risk. 

Greater Manchester’s Labour leaders wrote to Prime Minister Boris Johnson on March 3 asking for clarification about whether a Clean Air Zone remains a legal requirement and suggesting principles for an alternative plan.

No decision has yet been taken on a new plan for clean air in Greater Manchester and any plan would have to be approved by government. Government and Greater Manchester have agreed to deliver a new plan for clean air by 1 July 2022. The new plan will outline how compliance with clean air legislation in Greater Manchester can be delivered as soon as possible and by no later than 2026.













Poor air quality is the largest environmental risk to public health in the UK and investing in cleaner air and doing even more to tackle air pollution are priorities for Greater Manchester and the UK government. However action must be proportionate, with the interests of local people at the heart of action to improve air quality. 

A Clean Air Zone defines an area where targeted action is taken to improve air quality and resources are prioritised and coordinated in order to shape the urban environment in a way that delivers improved health benefits and supports economic growth. Clean Air Zones aim to address all sources of pollution, including nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter, and reduce public exposure to them using a range of measures tailored to the particular location. Clean Air Zones fall into two categories:

Non-charging Clean Air Zones: Defined geographic areas used as a focus for action to improve air quality. This action can take a range of forms but does not include the use of charge-based access restrictions.

Charging Clean Air zones: Zones where, in addition to the above, vehicle owners are required to pay a charge to enter, or move within, a zone if they are driving a vehicle that does not meet the particular standard for their vehicle type in that zone. Clean Air Zone proposals are not required to include a charging zone.   




Governance and the decision for a new Clean Air Plan

Greater Manchester leaders and the GM Mayor kept the original GM Clean Air Plan under constant review, tracking emerging evidence and listening to our businesses and residents who said it would cause them financial hardship. Late last year they commissioned an independent review of emerging global supply chain issues and the impact this could have on the cost and availability of vehicles, particularly vans.  

We are committed to cleaning up the air our residents breathe – but in a way that helps people to make the change and does not put jobs, livelihoods and businesses at risk. Government has now given Greater Manchester until July 2022 to present a revised plan to achieve compliance with legal levels of nitrogen dioxide on the local road network in the shortest time possible and by 2026.





The original Clean Air Plan had already started to have a positive impact. Within the next few months, 80 per cent of Greater Manchester’s bus fleet will be compliant with Clean Air emission standards. Greater Manchester has now been given until 2026 to achieve compliance with legal levels of nitrogen dioxide on the local road network and is working on a revised Clean Air Plan with Government.   





Health impact of polluted air in Greater Manchester

Public Health England calculate that poor air quality contributes the equivalent of 1,200 early deaths per year in Greater Manchester in 2016 through its Public Health Outcomes Framework, which gave a spatial breakdown of deaths attributable to air pollution.
  
 In 2019, Public Health England published a report quoting that at a UK level, the equivalent of between 28,000 and 36,000 deaths a year were attributable to long-term exposure to air pollution. Based on the size of the GM population, this could equate to between 1,300 and 1,700 deaths per year in GM.   

Air pollution harms our health at every stage of life – in fact, the effects can start as early a baby’s first few weeks in the womb. The most vulnerable people in society are hit hardest – children, older people and those already in poor health. Read more about the health impact of air pollution.




Air quality in Greater Manchester

Yes, the 10 Greater Manchester local authorities remain fully committed to cleaning up the air our residents breathe – but in a way that helps people to make the change and does not put jobs, livelihoods and businesses at risk. Due to vehicle supply chain issues beyond Greater Manchester’s control, the original GM Clean Air Plan would not deliver compliance with legal air quality levels by 2024. Government and Greater Manchester have agreed to deliver a new plan for clean air by July 2022. The new plan will outline how compliance with clean air legislation in Greater Manchester can be delivered as soon as possible and by no later than 2026.

The Mayor and GM Leaders recognise that there are currently breaches of legal air quality limits right across the city-region and remain entirely focused and committed to addressing this in order to improve public health. However, this has to be done in the right way which enables and supports people to upgrade their vehicles and does not unnecessarily penalise people and businesses.   

Due to evidence showing the impact of COVID-19 on supply chains and the price and availability of second-hand vehicles making it harder for people to upgrade, government has agreed to delay the implementation of the current GM-wide Clean Air Zone while a new plan is agreed.






Infrastructure, procurement, signage and cost of the Clean Air Zone

The development of the GM Clean Air Plan is funded by the Joint Air Quality Unit (JAQU), the joint DEFRA (Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs) and DfT (Department for Transport) unit established to deliver national plans to improve air quality and meet legal limits. The costs related to the Plan’s implementation and operation are directly funded or underwritten by JAQU.

Greater Manchester’s 10 local authorities now have until 1 July 2022  to work with government to develop a new plan. All reasonable costs associated with the new plan, including the essential requirement to update existing signage, will continue to be funded by government.

Following competitive tenders run by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) on behalf of the 10 local authorities, the following companies have been appointed to deliver work for the Greater Manchester Clean Air Zone:

  • Egis: Responsible for the installation and maintenance of close to 900 ANPR cameras, a public-facing CAZ office to handle payments, discounts, exemptions and financial reconciliation along with any Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) that are issued to non-payers of the charge.

  • McCann & Company Limited: Five-and-a-half-year contract to design, manufacture, install, maintain and decommission over 2,200 signs to support the Clean Air Zone.

  • Legal Services Alliance: A collaboration of Squire Patton Boggs and BDP Pitmans advising TfGM on the project. 

We’ve stopped installing any further Clean Air Zone signs and ANPR cameras. Work is now under way to cover the go live date on installed signs to reduce any confusion for people driving within the city-region. This work is expected to be completed by April, if not sooner. All “reasonable” costs associated with the new plan, including the essential requirement to update existing signage, will continue to be funded by government.

The ANPR cameras are purpose built and mounted on either lamp posts or dedicated poles. They are designed to achieve a specific field of view and are fixed to ‘look’ at the highway and record the Registration Number of passing vehicles so that the DVLA can advise us of the specific type of vehicle and the emission standards of its engine.

As part of the Clean Air Plan review with government, we are using the ANPR cameras that have already been installed, to better understand the current vehicle fleet on Greater Manchester’s roads and their emissions. This will help us understand how vehicle fleets have naturally renewed over the development of the Clean Air Plan, and what impact the pandemic may have had. Where ANPR cameras are next to air quality monitoring stations, we can also analyse and understand how specific vehicle types might be contributing to overall emissions.

Once our air quality meets legal limits, the cameras will no longer be used for clean air zone purpose, instead alternative uses of CAZ infrastructure could be considered, for instance, by the Greater Manchester Police for law enforcement purposes. There would be a full public consultation on any such measures.

No. ANPR cameras already installed would be used to capture data to help us to better understand the current vehicle fleet on Greater Manchester’s roads and their emissions. This will help us understand how vehicle fleets have naturally renewed over the course of the Clean Air Plan project, and what impact the pandemic may have had.





The cost of putting update stickers on the Clean Air Zone signs is £186,000. This covers design, production and application including plant, labour and traffic management requirements for the 1,309 signs that have been installed to date. All reasonable costs associated with the Zone, including the essential requirement to update existing signage, continue to be funded by government.

The work is being completed by Greater Manchester local authorities and McCann Ltd, which is contracted for signage services for the now-paused Greater Manchester Clean Air Zone.

National Highways is responsible for the work carried out on signage on the Strategic Road Network, which includes motorways. We don’t have details of the costs for this work.

Government has indicated that the £120m government funding awarded to GM for eligible people/businesses to upgrade non-compliant vehicles will continue to be available to support delivery of the new plan. The new plan will include arrangements for how the remaining funds – c. £100m – can best be targeted to tackle deliver legal levels of nitrogen dioxide on the local road network. HGV and bus funding remains open to support people to upgrade and help deliver improved air quality.





Impacted vehicles – those due to be charged under old the GM Clean Air Plan

Greater Manchester is working on a new Clean Air Plan with government, and has agreed to deliver, by July, a new plan for clean air in the city-region that is fair to businesses and residents.   This will allow Greater Manchester to provide further evidence, setting out how it will deliver legal levels of Nitrogen Dioxide on the local road network as soon as possible, and no later than 2026.  We'll keep this website updated and people are encouraged to sign up to the CleanAirGM newsletter where we will be providing regular updates on the latest status regarding the Clean Air Zone.  
  


   







Funding for eligible people and businesses to upgrade non-compliant HGVs and buses will remain open and opened to small businesses on 28 February 2022. Those who have applied for funding to upgrade their vehicles or who have already received a funding award will/can continue in the process. People or businesses who have upgraded their vehicle with Clean Air Funds are not required to return any grant money.





Funding for eligible owners of HGVs and buses remains open to support them to upgrade and help deliver improved air quality. This is because the emissions reduction for an HGV or bus changing from a non-compliant vehicle to a Euro VI model is greater than for lighter vehicles such as taxis and vans, therefore, the air quality benefits to Greater Manchester per successful fund application are maximised.  

Those who have applied for funding to upgrade their vehicles or those who have already received a funding award will and can continue in the process under the current policy. So that others can also access this help to improve air quality and upgrade their fleets, HGV funding for small businesses opened on 28 February 2022.  






We know that some people have made plans to upgrade their vehicle and placed orders in preparation for the taxi, PHV and LGV funds opening at the end of January 2022.

Those vehicles owners who had already placed orders pending funding opening at the end of January can contact CleanAirGM for advice to ensure they are not detrimentally impacted by the decision to pause the opening of the funds, and that awards can be made where appropriate.

Anyone who is affected by this should contact CleanAirGM for advice on 0161 244 1333 or by email info@cleanairgm.com.     



   







Greater Manchester is working with government to develop a new Clean Air Plan. In the meantime, discounts and exemptions under the current Clean Air Plan policy have been paused.  Greater Manchester is now working with Government on a revised plan, which will include more detail on discounts and exemptions. We will keep people updated on any applications that should be required on the basis of any new scheme agreed with Government.