A consultation on a Clean Air Zone for Greater Manchester is underway to ensure the legal limits on nitrogen dioxide are met and are fully compliant by 2024.
The proposed ‘Category C’ Clean Air Zone (CAZ) would come into force in Spring 2022, and would enforce a charge on the most polluting commercial vehicles whilst ensuring the vehicles that do meet emission standards are exempt from payments.
However, the CAZ excludes private vehicles which make up just shy of 70 percent of the vehicles in Greater Manchester.
Although welcomed by many, there are claims that this scheme will not effectively reduce air pollution and needs to go further.
Manchester Friends of the Earth said: “There is little recognition from national Government of the scale or urgency of Greater Manchester’s air pollution crisis.
“We are calling for urgent action by both local and national governments to quickly and drastically improve air quality.”
According to the Institute for Public Policy Research North, Greater Manchester is number one in the country for rates of emergency admissions to hospital for asthma, with Central and North Manchester NHS trusts admitting over double the national average.
Andy Burnham recently highlighted the impact of air pollution on St Ambrose primary school in Hale, with claims they cannot even open some of their school windows or play football on the playground.
Lorenza Casini, and member of local parents’ group Levenshulme Clean Air, said: “Dirty air affects nearly every organ of the body and is linked to asthma, heart and lung disease, dementia and now to worsening coronavirus symptoms.
“Our health cannot afford to wait another four years.”
Parents and environmental campaigners are keen to emphasize that the law states that the climate limits should be met “in the shortest time possible”, but the exclusion of private cars from the CAZ makes this much more difficult.
Catherine Thomson from Manchester Friends of the Earth said: “We need more ambitious action on our dirty air crisis including an end to road-building schemes and new measures to help people out of their cars and onto cleaner forms of transport.”
Manchester Friends of the Earth have proposed further measures to be taken by the government, with more information available at: www.manchesterfoe.org.uk