Manchester councillors have begun to discuss the possible implementation of a new clean air zone in the city. The zone, mirroring the one currently operating in London, proposes to charge older cars when entering the city centre in a bid to reduce air pollution.
The decision comes after this year’s first full meeting of councillors, in which the issue of congestion in the city was tackled. The suggestion proposed by city centre councillors Jon-Connor Lyons and Marcus Johns attempts to improve Manchester’s emissions. The proposal was backed by Labour and Liberal Democrat members.
Although the specific details regarding how this zone would function and the amount to be charged are not yet known, Johns showed determination to follow London’s success with the project. According to Manchester Evening News, the introduction of a clean air zone in London was successful in reducing emissions by a third in a matter of months.
Regarding the positive outcomes in relation to health and wellbeing of this implementation, Johns claimed: “I’ve not heard one reason not to act.” Lyons also adds that this project “will help to tackle this, but only if the government will work with us”.
Previously critical of the environmental group Extinction Rebellion’s closure of Deansgate, City Centre spokesman Pat Karney expressed his support for the plan. He stated that the issue of climate change “needs people like me and Richard Leese to catch up”.
However, the decision surprised many after Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham’s promise to never introduce fees on drivers in the process of tackling congestion in 2o17. In conversation with Manchester Evening News, he said: “I’m not going to implement that charge on car users. I want to make this really clear – there will never be any charge on individual motorists.”
Uncertainty surrounding the proposal continues, with concerns that the public may not accept the change. A similar proposal that suggested charging individual drivers was rejected back in 2008.
The current plan put in place by Andy Burnham only imposes fees on the most polluting vehicles and does not include individual drivers.
It is unknown whether this proposal will come to fruition or when this matter is to be decided.