Greater Manchester Clean Air Plan consultation update

April 15th, 2020

Greater Manchester has announced that the statutory consultation on the city-region’s Clean Air Plan will be delayed, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The consultation had been planned for this summer. However, like other areas of the country, current circumstances have limited Greater Manchester’s ability to progress the delivery of the Clean Air Plan to previous timescales.

Greater Manchester remains committed to cleaning up its air and continues work, where possible, to progress the Clean Air Plan. The government has contacted Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM), which is co-ordinating the plan on behalf of the Greater Manchester local authorities, to say that it understands that the pandemic may affect previously agreed timelines.

Councillor Andrew Western, Greater Manchester Green City-region Lead, said: “These are exceptional times that are impacting on all areas of life. Unfortunately, we need to postpone the Clean Air Plan consultation until the restrictions on all our daily lives have been lifted and we better understand the impact of COVID-19 on businesses in Greater Manchester. “Work is under way to understand the local impacts of the pandemic. Whilst the government has made a number of financial packages available to businesses and the self-employed in this extraordinary situation, our residents and businesses are rightly focused on ensuring that they and their families and employees stay safe.

“We are mindful of the significant changes that could result from these exceptional times. The transport sector has already been impacted by the pandemic, and government policies to limit it spreading. “Greater Manchester will be focused on recovering from revenue losses, and further thought and consideration is needed to see how we can move forward with the Clean Air Plan requirements for cleaner business fleets, in a post-pandemic environment.

“The groups most affected by our Clean Air Plan may require different levels of financial assistance than we had anticipated at the time of our previous submission to government.

“Our commitment to cleaning up Greater Manchester’s air has not wavered but these are exceptional times that require us to work flexibly and be pragmatic about how we achieve our air quality targets in these unprecedented circumstances.”

Greater Manchester anticipates that there may be wider economic impacts that could significantly change the assumptions that sit behind the current Clean Air Plan Outline Business Case. Work has begun to consider the impacts, and a commitment made to updating the government as the picture becomes clearer over time.

The national response to the COVID-19 pandemic has meant that traffic levels on Greater Manchester’s road network have dropped dramatically.

There has been a transformational change in travel behaviour, as people follow government instructions to stay at home, avoid public transport, and drive, cycle and walk where possible for essential journeys. This has resulted in significant reductions in air pollution.

Over the coming weeks and months, work will continue to assess the impact of travel changes on the pollution measured by the real-time air quality analysers across Greater Manchester.

This will help inform how changing travel behaviour – and reducing the amount of traffic on our roads in the long term – can positively affect our air quality, improve residents’ health and help meet Greater Manchester’s ambition to become a carbon-neutral city-region.