It’s been revealed that air pollution throughout Greater Manchester has crept back up to near pre-pandemic levels after a sharp drop during the first lockdown.
Data from the think tank Centre for Cities stated that there was a 40% reduction in nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels across Greater Manchester following the first national lockdown and ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions since, but this had returned to 93% of pre-pandemic levels by September.
The main source of NO2 pollution is the burning of fossil fuels, particularly fuel in vehicles.
These findings follow the end of an eight-week public consultation for a Clean Air Zone (CAZ) in the region, although plans for its implementation were previously delayed for a year because of the pandemic.
The study also looked at particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5μm or less (PM2.5) – their size means they can get deep into the lungs and bloodstream – finding that PM2.5 levels fell by 17% in the region during the first lockdown, but remained above the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines of 10µg/m3.
Speaking on the research findings, Andrew Carter – Chief Executive at Centre for Cities – said: “Toxic air has contributed to the deaths of thousands of COVID-19 victims this year and, even after the pandemic ends, will remain a big threat to health,
“Particularly for those living in urban areas.”
Dom Goggins – a member of the Manchester Climate Change Board who runs the Parliamentary Group for Renewable and Sustainable Energy – has called for WHO standards to be written into the Environment Bill that is going through Parliament, saying: “It comes back to legislation and resources at a national level to give local leaders the powers and the resources, the capacity, to do what needs to be done.
“Local leaders can’t do this with their hands tied behind their back and at the moment it feels like that is what’s happening.”
The government has directed Greater Manchester to introduce a Category C CAZ, now expected to be brought in by spring 2022.
It will be England’s biggest such zone and would require vans, buses, coaches, taxis, private hire vehicles, minibuses and heavy goods vehicles that do not meet emission standards to pay a daily charge to travel.
Private cars, motorbikes and mopeds are not included.
It will apply to all roads within Greater Manchester – except for motorways and trunk roads – and will operate 24/7 using Automatic Number Plate Recognition technology.
Mr Goggins – who has written several reports on air pollution in Greater Manchester, including Atmosphere (2018) and Unfair Air (2020) – added: “It’s essential if we’re going to deal with this problem that we’ve got to get fewer cars on the road, and we need to shift from high polluting vehicles to low polluting vehicles. But people who need a vehicle to earn a living can’t be penalised and the transitional funding needs to be made available by national government to the combined and local authorities in Greater Manchester to support that transition.”
The public consultation on the Clean Air Zone (CAZ) closed on 3rd December and news on the final plan to be considered by the ten Greater Manchester local authorities is expected early next year.
You can find more information via the Clean Air GM website here.
Sir David Jason set for TV return in Only Fools and Horses documentary Christmas special
In a surprise bit of festive news, the only and only Sir David Jason is returning for an Only Fools and Horses Christmas special this December. Lovely jubbly!
The best-loved and most-watched British comedy of all time will be back on our screens in documentary form this festive season, with Del Boy himself David Jason revisiting the iconic comedy character after 20 years he last played him on screen.
While the legendary sitcom was broadcast on BBC back in the day, the highly-anticipated Only Fools doc will be airing on Channel 5 right before Christmas as a special one-off programme.
Looking back on the show’s incredible run on UK screens over seven series and the several ‘Christmas Cracker’ specials, specifically, the latest Only Fools and Horses documentary will see Jason and a number of other guests appearing to chat about the legendary show.
While it’s still unclear how many of the original cast will be appearing, Jason’s on-screen wife Tessa Peake-Jones (Raquel) is confirmed to be appearing along with other special guests including newscaster Krishnan Guru-Murthy and Bendiorm‘s Sherrie Hewson.
Sadly, a full theatrical reunion just isn’t on the cards following the deaths of Roger Lloyd Pack (Trigger), Kenneth MacDonald (Mike the Landlord) and Buster Merryfield (Uncle Albert) in the 30 years since the show ended its run.
Only Fools writer John Sullivan also sadly passed away aged 64 in 2011 and fellow co-star Nicholas Lyndhurst, a.k.a. Rodney Trotter, told Metro: “We can’t. John is no longer with us. John was the driving force of the show and we have also lost quite a few cast members now.
“I don’t think I could do it without them and I certainly couldn’t do it without John. At the risk of depressing everyone, I think the last two times I’ve seen David has been at funerals.”
Simply entitled, ‘The Story Of Only Fools And Horses At Christmas’, the 90-minute special is yet to have its broadcast date fully confirmed but you best keep your eyes peeled on the TV guide — we’ll let you know as soon we do.
Jason, 81, has only just recovered from hip surgery earlier this year, so it’ll be nice to see his familiar grin back on our screens.
Right, we’re off to binge a whole series on UK Gold.
Habas restaurant in Manchester announces shock closure – with huge closing-down discount
Habas, the Middle Eastern restaurant launched by the team behind El Gato Negro, has announced its shock closure.
The subterranean restaurant will be going out with a bang though, promising one last knees-up with a big discount.
Habas will be doing 25% off its entire food and drink menu this New Year’s Eve so that fans of the eatery can raise a glass to the Manchester restaurant.
They’re also hoping that Mancs will raise a glass to new beginnings, teasing a brand new concept.
Habas is located at Brown Street in Manchester city centre and has been serving up its Middle Eastern menu since 2021.
It comes from Mills Hill Developments Limited, the company also responsible for El Gato Negro and Canto, fronted by celebrated chef Simon Shaw.
Habas has stressed that its closure ‘is not forever’ as it announces details of its New Year’s Eve closing down party.
You can ring in the new year with a selection of mezze dishes, sharing platters and small plates, feasting on chicken tagine and traditional tzatziki, all 25% off on Sunday 31 December.
Drinks, too, like the cranberry elderflower martini, blackberry ginger smash and clementine daquiri will be with 25% off.
Simon Shaw, Chef Parton at Mills Hill Developments Limited, said: “As of January 2024, we have made the decision to close the doors of Habas Bar & Restaurant, however we are thrilled to announce that our Brown Street venue has an exciting new concept on the way.
“Throughout December, Habas, will continue serving up the city’s best middle-eastern cuisine, so make sure you pop in and see us. AND on New Year’s Eve, Habas, will be hosting an unforgettable celebration with 25% off food and drinks. We want to rejoice with all of our customers, with one final hurrah!
“We would like to thank all of our guests and reassure Habas fans that this is not the end of Habas Bar & Restaurant forever, simply a farewell from Brown Street for now.
“We look forward to welcoming you to our new exciting concept in Q1 of 2024.”