GM Clean Air Zone: where does it cover and who does it affect? Seven key facts (2023)

What the environmental plan involves, why it is being proposed and what it means for you.

GM Clean Air Zone: where does it cover and who does it affect? Seven key facts (1)

A Clean Air Zone is being planned for Greater Manchester as part of a plan to make the city-region a greener and less polluted place.

All 10 councils have worked together on the Clean Air Plan.

However, in recent months the whole scheme has gone back to the drawing board after a huge public and business backlash caught the attention of the authorities and both the Government and the city-region’s leaders had to agree the original proposal was unworkable.

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Here’s what you need to know about the zone, where the debate around it is currently up to and what its introduction could mean.

GM Clean Air Zone: where does it cover and who does it affect? Seven key facts (2)

Why is the Clean Air Zone being proposed?


The Government directed Greater Manchester to introduce a Category C Clean Air Zone.

However, this legal directive was withdrawn in February amid concerns about the availability of compliant vehicles and local people and businesses suffering potential financial hardship.

(Video) What next for Clean Air Zones

There are four types of Clean Air Zone and the difference involves the type of vehicles penalised in each one.

Category A has the fewest vehicles paying charges, while Category D has the most.

Clean Air Greater Manchester says air pollution is linked to a number of very serious health conditions and can cause premature death.

This, therefore, means action needs to be taken to protect future generations and clean up the city-region’s atmosphere.

In particular, the Clean Air Zone aims to get levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) on local roads down to legal limits as quickly as possible.

While the original legal directive has gone and the authorities are now coming up with a new plan, Greater Manchester leaders have not rowed back on the view that air pollution is too high in the city-region and needs to be brought down.

Which vehicles are included in Manchester’s Clean Air Zone charges?

There are four types of vehicle which may become eligible for some kind of penalisation under the Clean Air Zone.

Light goods vehicles (LGVs) and minibuses, heavy goods vehicles (HGVs), taxis and private hire vehicles and buses and coaches are all included.


You can check if your vehicle will be included or not on the Clean Air Greater Manchester website.

Private cars are not included in the Greater Manchester plans.

GM Clean Air Zone: where does it cover and who does it affect? Seven key facts (3)

Which roads are included?

The Clean Air Zone covers the whole of Greater Manchester and will also operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

However, routes operated by Highways England, namely motorways and trunk roads, are not included in the zone.

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It is not currently clear if that will change as the zone is reviewed. Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham has previously said he does not think that targeting pollution hotspots with individual charges or schemes will work as it will create a confusing array of differing measures across the city-region.

How much will charges cost for non-compliant vehicles?

A number of charges have been proposed as part of the plans.

However, these are currently somewhat up in the air while the plan is being reviewed.

Buses and HGVs which are not compliant were initially due to face daily charges of £60 from May 30, 2022, although the authorities have now confirmed this will not happen.

Coaches will also have to pay £60 but they were given a year’s stay of execution and were told they would not have to pay until May 31, 2023.

GM Clean Air Zone: where does it cover and who does it affect? Seven key facts (4)

The rest of the original plan was for LGVs and minibuses to pay £10 a day from May 31, 2023 and for taxis and private hire vehicles to face charges of £7.50 a day from May 30 2022 for vehicles licenced outside the city-region and from May 31 2023 for Greater Manchester’s vehicles.

However, with the review going on it is now very unclear if any of these charges will be brought in at all, or when some other system of penalisation for non-compliant vehicles might be rolled out.

Drivers of non-compliant vehicles who do not pay the charges were in line to receive a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) of £120, in addition to having to stump up the daily fee they owed.

However, the PCN would have been halved if it is paid within 14 days.


Automatic number plate recognition technology was being rolled out across the Clean Air Zone to ensure motorists in eligible vehicles pay up.

All of this, though, is now subject to review.

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Signs across the city-region which previously warned when the implementation date was have now been covered up with stickers explaining that the whole thing is being looked at once again.

Some vehicles, though, will not be charged, regardless of whether they meet the criteria or not.

The Government’s Clean Air Framework sets out permanent exemptions for historic vehicles, military vehicles, disabled passenger vehicles, and specialist emergency service vehicles.


Owners or registered keepers of non-compliant vehicles in Greater Manchester will also be able to apply for local exemptions or discounts.

Will I be able to make my vehicle comply?

The authorities say helping people and companies to upgrade their vehicles to greener alternatives is a key priority, though the practicality of this has been contested by business and trade groups.

Greater Manchester secured some £120m of funding to help the city-region get ready for the Clean Air Zone to be implemented.

However, applications for funding for light goods vehicles, minibuses, taxis and private hire vehicles, along with discounts or exemptions under the previous plan, were all paused when the original Government legal directive was withdrawn.

HGV and bus funding remained open to support those upgrading and help deliver improved air quality, while an additional pot of HGV funding for small businesses was due to open on Monday 28 February.


How bad is air pollution in Greater Manchester?

The World Health Organisation sets an annual average threshold for NO2 of 40 micrograms per cubic metre of air.

Modelling in October 2018 suggested there were 152 stretches of road across Greater Manchester where levels of NO2 were likely to be in breach of legal limits beyond last year without action being taken.

Manchester World also analysed data for 2019-20 for the five Greater Manchester monitoring stations in the Automatic Urban and Rural Network (AURN), the UK’s main network used for compliance reporting on air quality.

It found that during a week-long period towards the end of 2019 NO2 averages at the station in Bury were 60 micrograms per cubic metre, the highest such figure recorded.



GM Clean Air Zone: where does it cover and who does it affect? Seven key facts (5)

In the final week of 2019 the Manchester Piccadilly station recorded a weekly average of 57 micrograms per cubic metre.

Altogether the Piccadilly monitoring station picked up seven of the highest 10 weekly averages recorded across the city-region.

Across the whole of December 2019 the monthly average for NO2 at that station was 44.3 micrograms per cubic metre of air.

We chose 2019-20 for this analysis to avoid the effects of the unprecedented measures taken to slow down the spread of the novel coronavirus during 2020 and 2021.

Further analysis by ManchesterWorld of 2021 data suggested that in some locations, particularly in the city centre, WHO guidelines for NO2 were being breached on a regular basis.


What effect does air pollution have on health?

Public health bosses in Greater Manchester estimate air pollution contributes to around 1,200 deaths in the city-region each year.

Air pollution has been linked to flare-ups for health conditions and a trigger for heart attacks and strokes.

Pregnant women could also be affected as it has been suggested poor-quality air is linked to premature births, low birthweights for babies and miscarriages.

Children are also particularly susceptible to air pollution as their organs are still developing.


Breathing polluted air has been linked to childhood asthma as well as aggravating attacks, lung damage and a potential lifetime of more serious health issues.

It has also been suggested that if action is not taken then by 2035 air pollution could come with a £5.3bn cost to health and social care.

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Who does the Clean Air Zone affect? ›

The zone's Class C status means that HGVs, buses, coaches and taxis are charged to enter the zone if they are judged to be polluting – ie are either pre-Euro 6 diesel vehicles or pre-Euro 4 petrol vehicles – but regular passenger cars used for private use can still drive through and within the zone normally without ...

Where is the GM Clean Air Zone? ›

What area will it cover? The zone will cover all 10 boroughs of Greater Manchester - Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford and Wigan. It includes local roads, but does not include motorways and major trunk roads which are managed by National Highways.

What vehicles does the Clean Air Zone affect? ›

What vehicles will be affected by the Clean Air Zones?
  • Class A - Buses, coaches, taxis and private hire vehicles.
  • Class B - Buses, coaches, taxis, PHVs and heavy goods vehicles (HGVs)
  • Class C - Buses, coaches, taxis, PHVs, HGVs and light goods vehicles (LGVs)
  • Class D - Buses, coaches, taxis, PHVs, HGVs LGVs and cars.

Who is exempt from paying Clean Air Zone? ›

A temporary exemption permit is available for individuals who meet all three of the following criteria: You live at an address within the Clean Air Zone. You are the keeper of a vehicle that does not met the emission standards for the Clean Air Zone and will be subject to the daily charge.

How does the Clean Air Act affect people? ›

The Clean Air Act gives the Environmental Protection Agency the necessary tools to protect our families from a number of harmful pollutants that can cause asthma and lung disease – especially in children. Weakening these standards would allow more pollution in the air we breathe and threaten our children's health.

How will Clean Air Zone affect me? ›

How does this affect me? Passenger car owners (not including private hire cars) will not be charged for entering the zone. HGV, Coaches, buses, LGV, minibuses, Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Vehicles are liable for the charge if they are not compliant with the Clean Air Zone vehicle standard.

What are the aims of the Clean Air Zone? ›

A Clean Air Zone is a specific location that aims to reduce public exposure to nitrogen dioxide through: restrictions on the highest polluting vehicles. encouraging the use of cleaner vehicles. encouraging people to walk, cycle or use public transports.

What are the benefits of clean air zones? ›

What are the benefits of Clean Air Zones?
  • Encourages the growth of electric vehicles.
  • Reduces air pollution and greenhouse gases.
  • Improves people's health and quality of life.
  • Supports the goal to reach net zero by 2050.
  • Reduces congestion in busy towns and cities.
  • Encourages walking, cycling, and the use of public transport.
29 Aug 2022

How many clean air zones are there? ›

There are 4 types of clean air zones, Class A to D.

How do vehicles affect air quality? ›

Vehicle pollutants harm our health and contain greenhouse gases that cause climate change. Burning gasoline and diesel fuel creates harmful byproducts like nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, benzene, and formaldehyde. In addition, vehicles emit carbon dioxide, the most common greenhouse gas.

How do cars affect the ozone? ›

As the major consumer of oil in the world, vehicles also emit substantial amounts of carbon dioxide and other gases, which contribute to global warming. Because of expanded chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) use in vehicle air conditioners, vehicles also play a significant role in the stratospheric ozone depletion.

Why do cars contaminate the air? ›

Since the engines are consuming fuel and air and create heat in the combustion process, nitrogen from the air can be transformed into nitrogen oxides which are reddish brown gases that irritate the lungs and eyes. Pollutants emitted directly from vehicles are not the only cause for concern.

Do all cars have to pay Clean Air Zone? ›

You might need to pay to drive in a clean air zone if your vehicle does not meet emissions standards. Use this service to: find out if you need to pay for your vehicle. pay the daily charge.

What happens if you don't pay Clean Air Zone? ›

What happens if you don't pay. If you don't pay or appeal your PCN within 28 days, a Charge Certificate will be issued and the penalty charge will increase to £180 plus the Clean Air Zone charge.

Are private cars exempt from Clean Air Zone? ›

Other pages in this section. There is now a daily charge to drive in the Bradford Clean Air Zone (CAZ) if your vehicle does not meet required emission standards and it is not exempt. Bradford has a Class C+ Clean Air Zone. Charges will not apply to passenger cars and motorbikes (even if you use them for work).

What is the effect of clean air? ›

Americans breathe less pollution and face lower risks of premature death and other serious health effects. Environmental damage from air pollution is reduced. The value of Clean Air Act health benefits far exceeds the costs of reducing pollution.

What are the five purposes of the Clean Air Act? ›

The Clean Air Act of 1990 addressed five main areas: air-quality standards, motor vehicle emissions and alternative fuels, toxic air pollutants, acid rain, and stratospheric ozone depletion. In many ways, this law set out to strengthen and improve existing regulations.

How does air quality affect humans? ›

Exposure to air pollution can affect everyone's health. When we breathe in air pollutants, they can enter our bloodstream and contribute to coughing or itchy eyes and cause or worsen many breathing and lung diseases, leading to hospitalizations, cancer, or even premature death.

What is the three benefits of clean air? ›

There are numerous advantages to breathing clean air, including: Cleaner lungs. Decreased asthma and allergies symptoms. Improved skin appearance.

What are the effects of unclean contaminated air? ›

They can increase the risk of heart and respiratory diseases, as well as lung cancer. Ozone is a major factor in causing asthma (or making it worse), and nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide can also cause asthma, bronchial symptoms, lung inflammation and reduced lung function.

What is considered a clean air vehicle? ›

Qualifying vehicles must meet one of the following: California's Zero Emission vehicle standard, these are 100% electric or hydrogen fuel cell powered vehicles. Plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles certified to meet California TZEV standards.

Why do we need clean air short answer? ›

'Clean air' is air that has no harmful levels of pollutants in it and is safe to breathe. Air with dirt and chemicals in it is harmful to breathe in and can cause a wide array of health defects and problems (which we'll cover later).

How long does the Clean Air Zone last? ›

The Clean Air Zone is in operation 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and covers an area of the city centre within the A4540 Middleway.

Why is Clean Air Day important? ›

Clean air is important for the health and day-to-day lives of people, while air pollution is the single greatest environmental risk to human health and one of the main avoidable causes of death and disease globally.

What are the benefits of fresh air? ›

Fresh air not only cleans your lungs, it can also boost your mood, lower your heart rate, increase energy levels and even improve digestion (yes, that's right). Florence Nightingale knew the benefits of fresh air long before any scientific study.

How do they know if you drive in a Clean Air Zone? ›

How does the online checker work? To find out if you'll be charged to enter a Clean Air Zone, you need to visit the CAZ charge website. You'll require the number plate (registration number) of the vehicle you want to drive into the zone.

Is Clean Air Zone just for diesel? ›

This zone charges HGVs, buses, coaches, taxis and vans which do not comply with the emissions restrictions that are now in place. In order for any of these vehicles to be permitted to drive for free within the zone, they must either meet the Euro 6 emission standard (diesel) or the Euro 4 emission standard (petrol).

How much is the Clean Air Zone charge? ›

The zone now covers all areas within the North and South Circular Roads. The North Circular (A406) and South Circular (A205) roads are not in the zone. Most vehicles need to meet the ULEZ emissions standards or you must pay a £12.50 daily charge to drive inside the zone.

How are vehicles affecting the environment? ›

cars are a major contributor to air pollution producing significant amounts of nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, and particulate matter. 80-90% of cars' environmental impact comes from fuel consumption and emissions of air pollution and greenhouse gases.

Do electric cars affect the ozone layer? ›

A recent survey conducted by The Northwestern University in the US has shown that even when electricity in EVs is produced by combustion sources, the effect on Ozone pollution is still reduced when compared to traditional cars with Internal Combustion Engines.

Do electric cars cause ozone? ›

Compared to conventional internal combustion engine automobiles, electric cars reduce local air pollution, especially in cities, as they do not emit harmful tailpipe pollutants such as particulates (soot), volatile organic compounds, hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, ozone, lead, and various oxides of nitrogen.

Do big cars pollute the air more? ›

The emissions analysis considered only the carbon produced from fuel combustion, not any emissions embedded in the manufacturing of the cars – where larger models are also likely to result in more emissions.

What causes the most damage to the environment? ›

Humans impact the physical environment in many ways: overpopulation, pollution, burning fossil fuels, and deforestation. Changes like these have triggered climate change, soil erosion, poor air quality, and undrinkable water.

Does electric cars pollute the air? ›

Myth #1: Electric vehicles are worse for the climate than gasoline cars because of the power plant emissions. FACT: Electric vehicles typically have a smaller carbon footprint than gasoline cars, even when accounting for the electricity used for charging. Electric vehicles (EVs) have no tailpipe emissions.

How do cars and buses pollute the air? ›

Pollutants from vehicle exhaust include carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), particulate matter (PM) such as PM 2.5 and ultrafine particles (UFP), and volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

What cars are exempt from emissions charge? ›

Any car model that is full-electric is exempt, but you should check if you are using any other type of car, including semi-electric hybrid cars.
ULEZ exempt cars list
  • Nissan Leaf.
  • Honda Jazz.
  • Suzuki Sport Swift.
  • Ford Fiesta EcoBoost.
  • Skoda Octavia.
  • Toyota Prius.
  • Volkswagen Golf.
  • Audi A3 Sportback.

Is clean air a free good? ›

Any good whose supply is greater than the demand if their price were zero is called a free good, since consumers can obtain all they want at no charge. We used to consider air a free good, but increasingly clean air is scarce.

Do you have to pay Clean Air Zone twice? ›

A chargeable day is from midnight to midnight and you only need to pay once for each day you drive in the zone. If you enter the zone before midnight and then leave after midnight you will need to pay for two days of travel.

How much is the penalty for not paying congestion charge? ›

If your vehicle is involved in a contravention on the red route, you'll be sent a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) for £160. You need to pay this within 28 days. If you pay this within 14 or 21 days (it will say on the PCN), the amount will be reduced to £80.

Do clean air zones apply to motorways? ›

Which roads are included? The Clean Air Zone covers the whole of Greater Manchester and will also operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. However, routes operated by Highways England, namely motorways and trunk roads, are not included in the zone.

Are motor homes included in the Clean Air Zone? ›

Campervans and motorhomes that do not meet the minimum emissions standards of Euro 6 for diesel or Euro 4 for petrol must pay to drive inside the zone.

Who is more sensitive to air pollution? ›

Those most sensitive to air pollution include: children younger than 14. people older than 65. people with heart and lung conditions, including asthma.

What groups are sensitive to air quality? ›

For particle pollution, the sensitive groups include people with heart and lung disease, older adults, children, people with diabetes, and people of lower SES.

What age car is exempt from Clean Air Zone? ›

Military and historic vehicles which pass through the Clean Air Zone will be automatically exempt from any charges. An historic vehicle must have been built or first registered 40 years ago in order to be eligible.

What are the 10 effects of air pollution? ›

Effects of Air Pollution
  • Harming Human Health. ...
  • Harming Animals and Plants. ...
  • Causing Acid Rain. ...
  • Reducing Sunlight. ...
  • Making a Hole in the Ozone Layer. ...
  • Adding Too Much Nitrogen to the Land. ...
  • Effects of Greenhouse Gas Pollution.

What are the top 5 air pollutants? ›

The common air pollutants are:
  • Particulate matter (PM10 and PM2. ...
  • Ozone (O3)
  • Nitrogen dioxide (NO2)
  • Carbon monoxide (CO)
  • Sulphur dioxide (SO2)

What are the 7 air toxic? ›

Examples of other listed air toxics include dioxin, asbestos, toluene, and metals such as cadmium, mercury, chromium, and lead compounds. Contact Us to ask a question, provide feedback, or report a problem.

What are the 7 air pollutants? ›

Air Pollutants
  • Carbon Monoxide.
  • Lead.
  • Nitrogen Oxides.
  • Ozone.
  • Particulate Matter.
  • Sulfur Dioxide.
  • Other Air Pollutants.

What vehicles are exempt from Clean Air charge? ›

There are some national and local exemptions from the charge.
You're automatically entitled to a national exemption, and do not have to pay a charge, if you have:
  • a vehicle that's ultra low emission.
  • a disabled passenger tax class vehicle.
  • a disabled tax class vehicle.
  • a military vehicle.
  • a historic vehicle.

What cars are considered clean air vehicles? ›

Zero-Emission Vehicles: Battery Electric
  • 2022. Audi Q4 e-tron Quattro. Rebate: $2,000. ...
  • 2020-2021. BMW i3. Rebate: $2,000. ...
  • 2020-2023. Chevrolet Bolt EV. Rebate: $2,000. ...
  • 2021-2022. Ford Mustang Mach-E. Rebate: $2,000. ...
  • 2020-2021. Hyundai Ioniq Electric. Rebate: $2,000. ...
  • 2022. Kia EV6. ...
  • 2022. Mazda MX-30 EV. ...
  • 2022. Mercedes Benz EQB 350-4M.


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