Manchester Clean Air Zone set for spring 2022, plans show

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The Greater Manchester Clean Air Zone (CAZ) is to be introduced in “spring 2022” under plans that will be subject to an eight-week consultation process starting in October.

Proposals from the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) also state that the daily charge for non-compliant coaches and buses that enter the CAZ will be £60. That is down from the £100 that had been planned previously. The proposed daily charge for non-compliant minibuses has risen to £10 from £7.50.

Local coaches’ exemption under Manchester Clean Air Zone plans

In addition, the plans state that non-compliant coaches registered to a business address in Greater Manchester and which are not used on a registered bus service in the conurbation will be eligible for an exemption to the CAZ until 31 December 2022.

Non-compliant minibuses that are not used as licenced taxis, private hire vehicles or on a registered bus service will also be eligible for an exemption to the same date. That proposal does not stipulate that they must be registered to a business address within Greater Manchester.

The government has awarded Greater Manchester £4.4m as an initial tranche of funding towards coach replacement or retrofit to achieve Euro VI standards. A grant of up to £16,000 per vehicle is suggested, which GMCA says will allow around 275 coaches to be replaced or upgraded.

An initial £14.7m has been awarded for the replacement or retrofit to Euro VI of non-compliant buses. Again, up to £16,000 per vehicle is proposed. GMCA is trying to secure separate funding to permit the replacement of buses that cannot be retrofitted to meet Euro VI standards.

£2m had been awarded towards minibus upgrades to comply with the CAZ. GMCA proposes that grant of up to £5,000 per minibus will be available to achieve compliance.

In March, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Minister Rebecca Pow offered to make available to Greater Manchester through grants or loans from the Clean Air Fund an initial £15.4m for bus retrofit, £4.6m for upgrading or replacing coaches and £2.1m for upgrading or replacing minibuses. GMCA subsequently went back to the government to ask for additional money that captured other vehicle types.

Greater Manchester CAZ to run until at least second half of 2026

The Combined Authority says the temporary exemption until 31 December 2022 for coaches that are registered to a business address in Greater Manchester is to maintain access for children, elderly people and those on low incomes and to “mitigate a risk of reduced coach operations.”

It notes that while Euro VI coaches have been available since 2013, the coach fleet that is registered and believed to be operating in Greater Manchester is mostly non-compliant with CAZ requirements.

GMCA anticipates that the CAZ will run until at least the second half of 2026. If it is shown by then that two consecutive years’ compliance with legal limits for NO2 has been achieved, and that there is confidence that compliance will continue, it will begin decommissioning work.