Six-figure cost to cover up Greater Manchester Clean Air Zone signs revealed as leaders review next steps

It comes as city-region leaders are due to meet next week to discuss next steps for a revised air zone plan.

The cost of covering up more than 1,000 out-of-date Clean Air Zone signs in Greater Manchester with stickers saying ‘under review’ has been revealed.

Of the 1,309 CAZ signs installed across the city-region so far, 1,194 stated the original start date of May 30, 2022 – but the scheme has now been delayed.

It comes after the government agreed to move the deadline it set for councils to lower air pollution in Greater Manchester below legal limits by two years.

Local authority leaders, who have until July to come up with a new scheme that achieves air quality compliance by 2026, now want all charges to be scrapped. They say will begin the process of reviewing the evidence and options for a new Clean Air Plan when they meet next week.

One of the covered up signs for Greater Manchester Clean air zone Credit: LDRS

Meanwhile, stickers reading ‘under review’ are being installed on all signs with the wrong date – but this work is not covered by the £3m signage contract.

Advertisement

This work, which is to be completed by the end of March, will cost £186,000.

The six-figure sum was revealed in a report published ahead of a Greater Manchester Air Quality Administration Committee meeting next week.

The report confirms that all of the costs associated with the Clean Air Zone in Greater Manchester – including the stickers – are funded by the government.

Review to begin on next steps

Councillors on the committee will begin the process of reviewing the evidence and options for a revised scheme when they meet on Wednesday (March 23).

Since the committee last met, Greater Manchester’s council leaders and mayor Andy Burnham have agreed that all CAZ charges should be scrapped.

Advertisement

In a letter to the Prime Minister endorsed by the nine Labour leaders, Mr Burnham called for a ‘non-charging’ scheme which would help fund vehicle upgrades.

Instead of charges, cameras would be used to identify non-compliant vehicles and signpost them to financial support – but this would require more funding.

A graphic showing the boundary of the GM Clean Air Zone

Trafford council leader Andrew Western, who chairs the Greater Manchester Air Quality Administration Committee, said: “We can now begin the process of reviewing the evidence and options available to Greater Manchester as we work towards a new Clean Air Plan, acknowledging the importance of bringing nitrogen dioxide levels within legal limits without creating financial hardship and risking jobs and businesses.

“We want the people of Greater Manchester to participate in the conversation leading to the development of the new Clean Air Plan and the committee will discuss an approach to ensure that the new plan is informed by targeted engagement with stakeholder groups and vehicle owners.”

Advertisement

Cleaner buses

Before the review of the CAZ was announced, the process of removing 1,354 higher polluting vehicles from Greater Manchester’s roads had already started.

Clean Air Plan bus funding to retrofit 898 buses on Greater Manchester services has so far been awarded, with 370 vehicle retrofits complete.

Funding has been provided for 51 new buses, with 25 upgraded so far.

80 % of the region’s bus fleet is set to be Clean Air Zone compliant this year.

To date, 405 successful applications have been made for funding to upgrade heavy goods vehicles (HGVs), with 31 non-compliant HGVs already upgraded.

Advertisement

Coun Western added: “The negative impact of dirty air on the health of people in Greater Manchester is unacceptable. Greater Manchester remains committed to cleaning up the air our residents breathe.”