Clean Air Zone FAQ: What’s causing all the controversy?

Date Posted 13th January 2022
Read Time 3 min read

Greater Manchester has been in the news this week, as rally’s and protests have been held against the introduction of a borough-wide Clean Air Zone.

The Clean Air Zone is being introduced across all 10 Greater Manchester boroughs in a bid to reduce harmful air pollution in the region. From 30 May, buses, coaches and HGVs that are not compliant are expected to be charged £60 a day.

Greater Manchester Clean Air Zone

Charges for vans and minibuses were expected to be introduced from June 2023, but following the protests the rollout has been paused awaiting further discussion. Private cars and motorcycles will be exempt from the charges.

Greater Manchester is the latest area to introduce Clean Air Zones, following the Supreme Court ordering the government to take immediate action to cut nitrogen dioxide air pollution in 2015.

The borough joins Bath, Birmingham and Portsmouth who have already introduced Clean Air Zones. The measures are aimed at encouraging the use of ultra-low emission electric and hybrid vehicles as well as the newest petrol and diesels.

When do Clean Air Zone’s operate?

Clean Air Zone’s operate 24/7 throughout the year, with signage at boundaries to make drivers aware they are entering the zone.

Who will be charged for entering a Clean Air Zone?

The charge is only aimed at high polluting vehicles that do not meet set emissions standards. Only these non-compliant vehicles will be charged to drive in the Clean Air Zone.

Private cars, motorbikes and mopeds will not be affected.

Furthermore, the government’s Clean Air Zone Framework sets permanent exemptions for historic vehicles, military vehicles, disabled passenger vehicles, and specialist emergency service vehicles.

How much is charged in a Clean Air Zone?

There is no set charge, with councils setting their own payment options. The Greater Manchester Clean Air Zone has listed their charges as:

  • £60 for Heavy Goods Vehicles effective 30 May 2022
  • £60 for buses effective 30 May 2022
  • £60 for coaches effective 30 May 2022, with owners of vehicles not used on a registered bus service able to apply for exemption)
  • £10 for vans/light goods vehicles effective 1 June 2023
  • £10 for minibuses effective 1 June 2023
  • £7.50 for Hackney cabs and private hire vehicles effective 30 May 2022, with temporary exemption for most Greater Manchester-licensed vehicles until 1 June 2023

Further information on charges and vehicle exemptions is available on the government website.

One charge would be imposed per vehicle per day, with charges able to be paid either seven days prior or seven days post the journey date.

If the daily charge is not paid, there will be a Penalty Charge Notice of £120 in addition to the unpaid daily charge enforced via Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras.

What if I can’t afford to replace a polluting vehicle?

The government has launched a Clean Air Financial Support Scheme to support micro-businesses, sole traders, the voluntary sector and private owners to upgrade to compliant vehicles.