Air quality in Greater Manchester can be brought within legal limits without the need for – and faster than – a charging clean air zone (CAZ), new modelling shows.
Building on the region’s Bee Network of integrated transport modes and services, Greater Manchester’s proposed Clean Air Plan would see £86.7m invested in cleaner buses, taxis, and measures to manage traffic flows on some roads in Manchester and Salford.
It would use funding already allocated to Greater Manchester by the UK government and mean that no vehicle would be charged to drive in a CAZ in Greater Manchester.
Modelling reportedly shows that the plan would bring air quality within legal limits for nitrogen dioxide on local roads in 2025.
Furthermore modelling of a charging CAZ in the centre of Manchester and Salford reportedly shows it would not achieve compliance by 2026, failing to meet the government’s own compliance date.
Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “Cleaning up the air that people breathe is a priority for Greater Manchester and we have already started to do that through investment in the Bee Network, which saw the first buses brought back under local control in September.
“By accelerating investment in the Bee Network to create a London-style integrated public transport network, and upgrading licensed taxis, we can improve air quality faster than if we introduced a clean air zone, and without causing hardship to our residents or businesses.
“I’d also ask government to urgently consider allowing Greater Manchester local authorities to remove charging clean air zone signs, as 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.”
Greater Manchester’s proposal includes a £51.2m investment in zero-emission electric buses for the Bee Network, £30.5m to fund grants for cleaner taxis, and £5m for measures to manage traffic flow in the centre of Manchester and Salford.
Greater Manchester’s Air Quality Administration Committee will meet on 20 December 2023 to consider the latest Clean Air Plan proposals.
The committee has been recommended to approve and submit evidence to the government’s Joint Air Quality Unit.
Achievements and innovations in air quality and pollution reduction will be celebrated at the third annual CiTTi Awards, which will be held on 26 November 2024 at the De Vere Grand Connaught Rooms in London. Nominations officially open in March 2024. Please visit www.cittiawards.co.uk to learn more about this unmissable event for the UK’s transportation sector.