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22nd January 2022

Manchester’s Clean Air Policy may be changed

Given the changes in the vehicle market, the GMCA may have to reconsider their Clean Air policy or look for more funds.
Manchester’s Clean Air Policy may be changed
Image: ChrisClarke88 @ wikimedia commons

In June 2021, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) agreed upon a plan to reduce air pollution in Greater Manchester as, according to Councillor Andrew Western, there are 1,200 deaths in Greater Manchester every year due to poor air quality. However, this plan may have to be changed due to a problem with its funding.

In March 2020 it was noticed that 152 locations in Greater Manchester had NO2 levels over the legal rates due to vehicular exhaustion. A plan was set forth to rectify this completely by 2024, and was agreed in June 2021 by the GMCA. Andy Burnham announced this plan stating:

“Everyone in Greater Manchester deserves to breathe clean air but we have always said this cannot be at the expense of those who cannot afford to upgrade their vehicles to make them compliant in this timeframe.”

Given the fact that the GMCA and the Mayor were looking to fund people to upgrade their vehicles, the original plan required £120 million of government funding. The initial plan was further set out in two phases. The first phase was due to start in March 2022, and involved any heavy goods vehicles (HGVs), buses or non-Greater Manchester taxis or private hire cars being given a daily charge. The second phase, starting in June 2023, would add the same charges to light goods vehicles, vans, coaches, minibuses, all taxis and private hire vehicles. However, most vehicles are not affected, as the scheme does not include private cars, mopeds or motorbikes.

It was realised earlier in January 2022, that given the changes in supply chains and inflation, local business may suffer due to the clean air policy. Along with this, the GMCA have seen that there have been changes in the vehicle market since 2020. They believe that now there are more vehicles on the street that will be disobeying the regulations set by the Clean Air Plan. Hence questions have been raised on whether the funding would be sufficient, as in both cases the GMCA would need to provide additional funding to the owners of the vehicles for them to upgrade.

Andy Burnham believed that the policy may have to be changed. This would be considered if the government does not agree to the GMCA’s plan to require more funding. Hence, the GMCA decided that on the 20th of January they would meet and look over the plan again. The meeting’s results were announced by Andy Burnham on Twitter.

Burnham stated that the GMCA would be referring the Clean Air Zone policy back to the Government. He believes that the current plan would cause hardships to the residents of Manchester. Hence they want to push towards getting the legal direction of getting the plan in place. He also stated that he understands that this is a frustrating process but would nonetheless try to get the plans to the “right place.”

However, student areas are amongst the illegally polluted areas of Manchester. Wilmslow Road, the part of the Oxford Road that runs through the main campus of the University, along with areas in Rusholme and City Center are all pointed out by the GMCA.

A map provided by the GMCA to point out the illegally high pollutions zones in Manchester.

A second year undergraduate student is disappointed by the constant delays in plans. They stated:

“Personally I believe that the current delays in plan do not abide with the urgency of it. Me along with many others prefer to bike around the city and we have to breathe air that is illegal according to the amount of air pollutants it has. These delays could severely hurt many of us, so I personally hope that something is done about it soon.”

The date for the government to announce that it has accepted the changes to the policy is still unknown. However, clean air zone boards around Manchester, have still not been changed, which means it could be assumed that the changes would be accepted soon.

Shikhar Talwar

Shikhar Talwar

Hello! I am the MMG News Producer. My job is to ensure collaboration between all 3 wings of MMG, namely Mancunion, Fuse TV and Fuse FM. I also write for the news section at the Mancunion, with topics ranging from elections to protests.

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