ULEZ, or Ultra-Low Emissions Zones, are very familiar to Londoners or those who frequent the capital. Restrictions on older, more polluting vehicles have been gradually increased over the years in a bid to curb air pollution.
If you live in another big city, such as Manchester, you may be wondering if you’re next. The potential introduction of a ULEZ throws up many questions, especially for drivers of the very older vehicles that will be targeted. ‘How much will I pay’ or ‘What will happen to the value of my car’ can all be answered, though until firm plans are put into place by the Government, there’s very little that can be definitely confirmed.
Will Manchester get a ULEZ?
Manchester has the second-highest urban pollution in the UK, so you’d think it would be a prime candidate for a ULEZ scheme. Indeed, Greater Manchester was destined for a similar sort of ‘Clean Air Zone’, where vehicles that didn’t meet certain emissions standards would be compelled to pay.
However, in the aftermath of the pandemic, it was decided that an additional financial burden on the city’s motorists would not be appropriate, and on May 30 2022 the initiative was officially canned.
However, a coalition of local authorities and Transport for Greater Manchester (also known as Clean Air Manchester) has been pushing for an alternative solution, and presented a new Clean Air Plan for Greater Manchester to the Government in July 2022.
This plan didn’t involve punitive measures on residents and motorists, though – rather, investment-based strategies would curb dangerous levels of emissions by upgrading the most polluting vehicles, such as buses and HGVs.
What does the future hold?
Since the plan was submitted, Greater Manchester has continued to offer new evidence to the Government in support of it. However, in April 2023 the Government announced a review of its national bus retrofit program, as it had seen variable performance in reducing emissions.
While the review is under way, the Government has paused clean air funding and recommended that retrofitting work halt until findings are complete.
Greater Manchester’s leaders are expected to write to the Environment Secretary expressing their desire for their own Clean Air Plan to align with the review on bus retrofitting, and affirming that Greater Manchester’s future Clean Air Plan will be based on the study’s findings.
With or without the retrofit program, the Government has tasked Greater Manchester with reducing levels of harmful nitrogen oxides as soon as possible – by 2026 at the latest. Clean Air Manchester is confident that its scheme will be successful without needing to impose daily charges to motorists.
“Delivery of the transformational Bee Network and investment in zero-emission buses will contribute to a significant improvement in air quality, tackling not just nitrogen dioxide but other pollutants too. It will also support Greater Manchester’s ambitions to achieve carbon neutrality by 2038,” a Clean Air Greater Manchester spokesperson said.
“Greater Manchester’s 10 local authority leaders remain committed to an investment-led, non-charging GM Clean Air Plan and work is continuing to ensure that we deliver compliance with legal limits for nitrogen dioxide as soon as possible.”