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Greater Manchester considering vehicle charging zone

Greater Manchester is drawing up a Clean Air Plan to tackle poor air quality in eight of its ten councils, with a range of measures under consideration ahead of a public consultation next year.

Greater Manchester is drawing up a Clean Air Plan to tackle poor air quality in eight of its ten councils, with a range of measures under consideration ahead of a public consultation next year.

A number of local authorities across the country are in the process of drawing up plans to reduce illegal levels of air pollution in their constituencies following court action against the government.

Those implicated in Greater Manchester include Manchester, Stockport, Tameside, Salford, Trafford, Bolton, Bury and Oldham. 

Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) has been tasked with leading the development of a plan for the city region that will reduce pollution to acceptable levels in the shortest time possible.

Charging zone?

The key pollutant in question is nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which is mainly produced by diesel engines.

Local authorities are required to consider introducing chargeable Clean Air Zones to reduce NO2 pollution unless alternative measures can be identified that are at least as effective.

Although mayor Andy Burnham has previously ruled out a charging zone for private drivers, charges targeted at private-hire vehicles, buses, HGVs and light commercial vehicles are under consideration.

Workplace incentives

Other potential measures include introducing differential parking charges or a workplace parking levy to encourage commuters to use public transport, upgrading public transport and local authority fleets and increasing public transport capacity.

Andy Burnham has already announced a ‘Congestion Deal’ which will include incentives for employers to introduce flexible start and finish times for their workforce and a ‘high occupancy vehicle lane’ pilot to give priority to cars with multiple passengers. 

The mayor - one of several city leaders to recently call on the government to ban petrol and diesel vehicles earlier than planned - also intends to double the size of Greater Manchester’s electric vehicle charging network.

A full plan is due to be produced by the end of the year, which will be followed by a public consultation in 2019. The final measures will have to be in place by 2021.