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What is the Greater Manchester Clean Air Zone?

If you live in Greater Manchester, you’ll probably have noticed clean air zone signs popping up across the city. Covering most of the region, it is designed to help cut pollution by charging vehicles that don’t meet emissions standards.

The zone will be Category C, meaning it’ll be one of the strictest in the country, and its implementation has been directed by the Government.

Commercial vehicles are likely to be the most affected as private cars, mopeds and motorbikes won’t be charged in the new zone.

What areas of Greater Manchester will the clean air zone cover?

Found throughout Greater Manchester and most of the surrounding city, it stretches to Ramsbottom in the north, Altrincham in the south, Wigan in the west, and Glossop in the east. Road signs will let you know that you’re entering the Clean Air Zone. A sign like this one below –

When will the Greater Manchester Clean Air Zone start?

The initial plan was to introduce the Clean Air Zone in two stages. Daily charges were scheduled to begin on 30th May 2022 for any non-exempt HGVs, buses, coaches, taxis, and private hire vehicles. This would be extended to all remaining non-compliant vehicles including minibuses, coaches, light goods vehicles, taxis, and private hire vehicles from 1st June 2023.

The Mayor of Manchester, Andy Burnham, has asked for the introduction of the zone to be postponed, giving people more time to adjust to the new requirements and get additional support as many have concerns about already escalating costs due to the pandemic. He’d also like motorhomes, campervans, and horseboxes to be exempt from the charge. In response, an initial delay has been granted, with a revised plan and timeline due to be submitted to the Government in July 2022.

How much will I have to pay to enter the Clean Air Zone?

No matter when you travel, there’s no avoiding the charge; the Clean Air Zone will operate year-round and 24 hours a day. The good news is that you only need to pay once per vehicle in each 24-hour period and there’s no limit to the number of times you can re-enter the zone during that day. You’ll be able to pay through a government payment portal up to seven days in advance or seven days after using the zone. Daily charges range from £7.50 to £60 depending on the type of vehicle you drive and its engine.

How will it be enforced?

 A network of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras will be in place and if you’re caught not paying, you’ll face a Penalty Charge Notice of £120 on top of the daily rate (reduced to £60 if you pay within 14 days).

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Phoebe Rowe

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