‘Non-charging’ clean air zone backed by Greater Manchester leaders

No vehicles should be charged in the new clean air zone, Greater Manchester leaders have agreed, as the scheme remains under review.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham has called for a “non-charging” scheme which would help fund vehicle upgrades.

The bid has been backed by all nine Labour council leaders in the city-region – and Bolton’s Conservative leader has said he would support it too.

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The clean air zone was due to begin in MayThe clean air zone was due to begin in May
The clean air zone was due to begin in May

A new ministerial direction requiring Greater Manchester to comply with legal limits on air pollution was issued, delaying the deadline by two years to 2026.

Leaders now believe this can be achieved without a charging scheme.

The cameras could be used to identify non-compliant vehicles and signpost them to financial support – but this would require more funding.

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In the letter, Mr Burnham calls for a non-charging category B clean air zone – which would exclude vans, motorhomes, mopeds and cars.

He wrote: “We are of the clear view that any new scheme should be based on incentives for individuals and businesses to change vehicles rather than a charging penalty regime.

“But, to succeed, this will require your government to agree to the extra financial investment needed to enable vehicle upgrades to happen without the owners incurring unacceptable costs.”

The mayor told the Prime Minister he hopes politics can be taken out of the issue and a resolution found quickly, saying ‘the ball is in your court’.

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The nine Labour leaders of Greater Manchester issued a statement saying they will press for a non-charging zone for all vehicles.

The leader of Bolton Council - the only local authority under Conservative control in the city-region - has suggested he would support such a scheme.

On BBC Radio Manchester today, the mayor was called out for “demanding” a clean air zone in Greater Manchester when he was Leigh MP.

Mr Burnham had called on the government to give Greater Manchester the power to create a clean air zone in Parliament.

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However, he claimed he was calling for a “non-charging” zone.

He said: “There are different types of clean air zones and I’ve always said I’m not necessarily opposed to one.”

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