Greater Manchester Clean Air Zone - next steps

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. This affects everyone's health, particularly the most vulnerable people in our society.  Because of this, Greater Manchester is under a government legal direction to implement a Category C charging Clean Air Zone.  Most vehicles are not affected as private cars, mopeds or motorbikes are not included.  Mainly commercial vehicles which do not meet emissions standards (non-compliant vehicles) would be charged to drive in the Clean Air Zone.  

All ten local authorities across Greater Manchester have worked together to develop a Greater Manchester Clean Air Plan which includes the introduction of a Greater Manchester-wide Clean Air Zone.  

Air pollution in Greater Manchester

Air pollution is a public health crisis that is linked to a range of very serious health conditions and contributes towards 1,200 deaths a year in Greater Manchester.

Stretches of road across all ten local authority areas have been identified as being in breach of legal air pollution limits. Modelling in 2018 showed that more than 150 stretches of road across all ten Greater Manchester local authorities were likely to have harmful nitrogen dioxide air pollution levels above legal limits beyond 2020 if no action is taken.

Tackling the air pollution public health crisis

To tackle illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide on local roads, the ten Greater Manchester local authorities remain under government legal direction to introduce a category C Clean Air Zone to achieve compliance with legal limits as soon as possible and by 2024 at the latest.

The Zone does not include:

  • private cars
  • mopeds
  • motorbikes

And it is only the most polluting of certain vehicle types that do not meet emissions standards, that will be charged.

Phased implementation of the GM Clean Air Zone

The Clean Air Zone will be brought in in two phases to give people as much time as possible to upgrade their vehicles.

Phase 1 (from May 2022) will apply to:

  • Buses, coaches and HGVs (both those registered within Greater Manchester and those outside)
  • Hackneys and Private Hire Vehicles (those not licensed in Greater Manchester)

Funding support is in place for HGVs and buses. 

Coaches will be able to apply for an exemption to June 2023.

Phase 2 (from June 2023) will apply to:

  • Greater Manchester licensed taxi and private hire vehicles
  • Vans
  • Minibuses

Please note: 

  • A phase 2 funding and policy review has been requested.  More information is provided below.  

Phase 2 funding and policy review

The Greater Manchester authorities recognise that the introduction of a Clean Air Zone will be a major challenge for many individuals and businesses and must be accompanied by a fair package of financial support.

The current plan includes £120m of government funding to support those with non-compliant vehicles to upgrade.

Since the current plan was agreed in July 2021, emerging evidence from businesses, trade and a commissioned report has highlighted significant challenges related to supply chain issues and inflation. Based on this evidence, there is a fundamental concern that these global and national factors may impact on the ability of local businesses and individuals to upgrade their vehicles and whether the current financial support package agreed with government is sufficient.

The Greater Manchester Air Quality Administration Committee met on 20 January to consider the findings of this evidence. The Committee has agreed to seek permission from the Secretary of State - as required by the legal direction - to pause the opening of phase two Clean Air Funds. These funds were due to open at the end of January 2022 for eligible vans, coaches, GM licensed taxis and private hire vehicles.

GM Leaders have written to government to ask for an urgent joint policy review of the supply chain issues, to understand what this could mean for the GM Clean Air Plan. This would seek to ensure that the funding and policy arrangements can be reviewed quickly to better reflect the additional costs and vehicle availability problems that businesses are facing, having heard the concerns of local businesses and traders impacted by the Clean Air Zone.

Implementation of phase 1

The Greater Manchester Air Quality Committee also confirmed that the first phase of the Clean Air Zone due to launch in May 2022 - applying to buses, coaches, HGVs (both those registered within GM and outside) and Hackneys and Private Hire Vehicles (PHVs) which are not licensed in Greater Manchester - will go ahead, including the ongoing provision of funding support for HGVs and buses to upgrade.

Members also requested that those vehicles owners who had already placed orders pending funding opening at the end of January should be able to contact Clean Air GM 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.

Motor homes and horse boxes

The review will also consider whether some vehicles - such as motor homes and horse boxes - that are not used for commercial reasons could be exempted from a Clean Air Zone and will consider amending the current vehicle ownership requirements for GM Licensed Hackney & Private Hire owners when a vehicle has been upgraded due to licensing requirements to ensure they are not detrimentally impacted by the decision to pause the opening of the funds.

HGVs - temporary exemption

Recognising some of the supply chain issues also impacting HGVs, a temporary exemption is in place for vehicle owners who can demonstrate they've placed an order for a compliant upgraded vehicle but are waiting on its delivery. Additionally, the Committee has agreed that the application process for discounts and exemptions will open from 31 January 2022.

Clean Air Greater Manchester website

The Clean Air Greater Manchester website is the home of detailed air quality information for Greater Manchester.  At the website you can: 

  • Sign-up for updates on the Clean Air Zone
  • Find out about air pollution and sign-up for air pollution alerts 
  • Get the latest updates on the Clean Air Zone
  • Check if your vehicle will be affected and if you are eligible to apply for funding.

Air pollution and you

Find out more about air pollution and how it effects your health.

Be the change

Find out what you can do to help reduce air pollution. By learning more about air pollution you can help tackle it and protect your health.


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