Publication of the final Greater Manchester Clean Air Plan has revealed that the region’s Clean Air Zone (CAZ) is set to commence on 30 May 2022.
The Plan – a pre-approval draft of which is available on the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) website – includes details of an increased level of support available under some circumstances to coach operators in the region to help their vehicles comply. Leaders of Greater Manchester’s 10 local authorities (LAs) will be asked to endorse the Plan at a GMCA meeting on 25 June. It will then be approved by individual LAs.
Buses used on registered services will be within scope of the CAZ from the 2022 start date, but the Plan confirms that coaches and buses that are not used on a registered services will be eligible for a one-year temporary exemption until 31 May 2023. That represents a change from the earlier consultation, which proposed that this exemption would apply until the end of 2022 and only to such vehicles that were registered to a business in Greater Manchester.
When coaches and buses are in scope of the CAZ, those that do not satisfy Euro VI standards will be subject to a £60 daily charge. Around 18 bus operators have submitted applications for funding to retrofit vehicles to achieve Euro VI, worth nearly £12m.
In total, £14.7m of government money has been allocated to the retrofit of non-compliant buses used on registered services. A further £3.2m is on the table to replace those that cannot be upgraded and which are operated by small- and medium-sized operators.
In a change to previous policy, coaches and buses that are not used on registered bus services, and which are owned by businesses with an address in Greater Manchester, are now eligible for up to £32,000 from the Clean Commercial Vehicle Fund (CCVF).
A maximum of £16,000 is available towards a CVRAS-approved exhaust retrofit to achieve Euro VI standards, but when the vehicle cannot be retrofitted and the operator chooses to replace it with a compliant model, up to £32,000 will be on offer.
In all cases, the non-compliant vehicle must have been owned by or registered to the application for at least 12 months. In total, £4.4m is on the table from the CCVF for the upgrade of coaches and buses that are not used on registered services. £2m is available to upgrade or replace non-compliant minibuses from the Fund.
Various other permanent and temporary exemptions are detailed in the Clean Air Plan. In an echo of the Birmingham CAZ, minibuses operated under Section 19 or Section 22 permits are eligible for a permanent exemption.
Buses that are used on home-to-school contracts that expire in July 2022 and which were tendered before 31 March 2019 are eligible for an exemption until 31 July 2022. Those vehicles must not then be used on registered services in Greater Manchester beyond that date. All exemptions, whether permanent or temporary, must be applied for.
The Clean Air Zone will “follow the existing administrative boundary of Greater Manchester as far as possible.” It excludes the strategic road network (SRN), with one exception: The government has now agreed that parts of the A57 and A628 on the SRN that pass through Hollingworth and Mottram will be included.