Manchester likely to revisit Clean Air Zone plans with scaled-down scheme for 2024

pd website news manchester caz

A year after putting its controversial Clean Air Zone plans on hold following a massive local backlash, Greater Manchester is working on a smaller, less intrusive alternative CAZ scheme, for introduction in 2024 at the earliest.

The original scheme was due to cover all 10 Greater Manchester boroughs, stretching as far north as Bolton, as far south as Stockport and as far west as Wigan. It was due to come into force in May 2022, but was put on hold following huge protests from local businesses.

Mancunian transport bosses now do not want to introduce a paid-for scheme, but are under pressure from the UK Government to introduce a city centre charging zone along the lines of those recently imposed in Newcastle and Sheffield.

Since the original plan was scrapped last year, Greater Manchester has wanted to introduce an “investment-led” plan, where owners of older vehicles would be given funding to replace them with newer and cleaner ones. This new proposal was put to the government last summer, but in response, the Government has asked for data analysing the impact of introducing charges only in Manchester city centre, which is expected to be prepared by this June.

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham said he wanted all Clean Air Zone charges to be scrapped, but is now hedging his bets, saying it was “highly unlikely” that any charges would be introduced other than in parts of Manchester and Salford.

In practice, this means a Class C Manchester CAZ would be within the inner relief road, so vehicles travelling on the Mancunian Way, Great Ancoats Street or Trinity Way would not be charged unless they enter the city centre.

Like the previous plans, cars would be exempt from any charges but buses, taxis and lorries which do not meet Euro 4 petrol or Euro 6 diesel emissions standards would have to pay. In a bid to appease local businesses, non-compliant vans would be exempt from charges, though this has not been set in stone.

The daily charges would be the same as previously proposed: £7.50 for taxis and private hire vehicles, £60 for buses, coaches and heavy goods vehicles and £10 for vans and minibuses.

It is proposed that funding available for vehicle upgrades would be upped by 22.5% to account for inflation. A public consultation on the scheme is likely to be held this year.

Bury council leader Eamonn O’Brien said: “The investment-led non-charging zone remains the policy of the 10 local authorities. We believe it can be delivered. We believe it should be started as soon as possible so that we can get that investment out of the door and into the wider community. But clearly, there are still some hurdles to jump through from government before we’re in a position to do that.”