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Greater Manchester Clean Air Zone: revealed - who will pay to cover up out-of-date signs

Stickers will need to be placed on signs which now show the wrong start date for the air pollution busting scheme.

Stickers which will be put on Clean Air Zone (CAZ) signs with the wrong date on them will read ‘Under Review’, Greater Manchester leaders have revealed.

More than 1,000 CAZ signs installed across the city-region currently state the original start date of 30 May – but the scheme has now been delayed.

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It comes after the government agreed to move the deadline it set for Greater Manchester to lower air pollution below legal limits by two years to 2026.

Greater Manchester leaders will now work with the government to design a ‘substantially different’ scheme which could come into force as soon as July.

Greater Manchester Clean Air Zone signs on Warrington Road, Marus Bridge, Wigan

Stickers saying ‘Under Review’ will be used to cover the 1,194 out-of-date signs – but this work will not be covered by the £3m contract for signage.

The cost of the stickers are yet to be finalised, but a spokesperson for Clean Air Greater Manchester has now confirmed it will be funded by government.

The spokesperson said: “Government has agreed to lift a legal direction requiring the implementation of a charging Clean Air Zone (CAZ) in Greater Manchester and, therefore, charges will no longer apply from May 2022.

“Greater Manchester’s 10 local authorities now have until 1 July 2022 to work with government to develop a new plan.

“All costs associated with the new plan, including the essential requirement to update existing signage, will continue to be funded by government.”

The update came as councillors from each borough convened at a Greater Manchester Air Quality Administration Committee meeting on Monday (28 February) to discuss the latest developments with the Clean Air Zone.

A graphic showing the boundary of the GM Clean Air Zone

According to a report prepared for the meeting, the scope of the review will include boundaries, discounts, exemptions, charges and vehicles affected.

The committee approved proposals to use the 422 Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras which have already been installed as part of the scheme to gather ‘real time’ data on road usage to inform the ongoing review.

Bolton councillor Nadim Muslim – the only Conservative on the committee – questioned why private cars will also be monitored as part of this proposal.

Transport for Greater Manchester bosses explained that the data will be used to understand which vehicles are using the city-region’s roads and therefore contributing to the levels of air pollution exceeding legal limts in certain areas.

Trafford council leader Andrew Western, who chaired the meeting, stressed that private vehicles will never be charged as part of any future CAZ scheme.

He said: “There is not and will not be a proposal to charge for private vehicles. We are collecting the data because it is helpful for us to understand the impact that any material change to the vehicle fleet – including vehicles that are out of scope as private vehicles are – will have on our ability to achieve overall compliance in any revised scheme that will come forward.”