Greater Manchester publishes plans for a new non-charging Clean Air Zone

Emily Sergeant Emily Sergeant - 13th December 2023

Plans for a new Clean Air Zone across Greater Manchester that won’t charge motorists are getting ready to be submitted soon.

Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) has just published insights of those plans.

In case you need bringing up to speed, the Clean Air Zone was to initially hand motorists daily charges of up to £60 for some of the most polluting vehicles on Greater Manchester‘s roads, but many will remember that the deadline for the scheme had been put on hold until while the plan was referred back to the Government for “urgent review” in January of last year, following huge backlash and after then Prime Minister Boris Johnson conceded that it was “completely unworkable” for the region.

The Government agreed to delay the deadline for the scheme until 2026, but local leaders wanted to scrap all charges and help to fund vehicle upgrades instead.

GMCA then set out evidence supporting an investment-led, and, crucially for residents and motorists, a non-charging Clean Air Plan back in June 2022 – which it said was “the best solution” to address the roadside nitrogen dioxide (NO2) problem.


And now, further details of those plans have been shared with the public this week ahead of a full report being submitted to the Greater Manchester Air Quality Administration Committee – with the committee to be asked to approve the region’s evidence to the Government when it meets on 20 December.

So, what do the plans entail then?


According to GMCA’s new modelling, Greater Manchester can bring air quality within legal limits “without the need for” and “faster than” a charging Clean Air Zone.

By building on the launch of the new Bee Network, and using clean air funding already awarded by the Government, Greater Manchester’s proposal includes a £51.2 million investment in zero-emission electric buses for the Bee Network, £30.5 million to fund grants for cleaner taxis, and £5 million for measures to manage traffic flow on some roads in the centre of Manchester and Salford.

Greater Manchester’s preferred plan would mean that no vehicle would be charged to drive in a Clean Air Zone in Greater Manchester.


“By accelerating investment in the Bee Network to create a London-style integrated public transport network, and upgrading GM-licensed taxis, we can improve air quality faster than if we introduced a Clean Air Zone,” Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham explained.

“And without causing hardship to our residents or businesses too.”

Greater Manchester has published plans for a new non-charging Clean Air Zone / Credit: Ocean Outdoor

He added: “I’d also ask the Government to urgently consider allowing Greater Manchester local authorities to remove charging Clean Air Zone signs.modelling shows that only Greater Manchester’s investment-led plan can meet the legal test placed on the 10 councils to deliver compliance in the shortest possible time and by 2026 at the latest.”

GMCA insists that once it’s had full formal Government feedback on the Clean Air Plan, following the submission of this additional evidence, it will “consider timescales” for a public consultation on the plan, so local residents can have their say.

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In the meantime, you can read more about the new Clear Air Plan here.

Featured Image – The Manc Group