Council leaders in Greater Manchester have approved updated plans to improve air quality and help tackle thousands of premature deaths each year.
The Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) has agreed a revised Greater Manchester Low-Emission Strategy (LES) and Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) following a public consultation on draft plans.
The AQAP feeds into the over-arching LES and includes a range of measures to improve air quality and reduce emissions across Greater Manchester, focusing on ‘key priority areas’ in urban centres and near major roads that currently fail to meet Government and EU air quality targets.
Key measures in the strategy include:
- upgrading the bus fleet to take advantage of the latest diesel and hybrid engine technology
- increasing the number of charging points to encourage uptake of electric vehicles
- investigating the feasibility of introducing a Clean Air Zone
- continuing the development of cycling infrastructure across Greater Manchester
Tony Lloyd with the consulation draft
Tony Lloyd, interim mayor of Greater Manchester, said: ‘Air quality and carbon emissions are two of the key challenges facing Greater Manchester. [They] not only cause significant harm to the environment but can also cause respiratory illness, cardiovascular disease and some cancers.
‘It is imperative that we act now. Our new measures and policies will help to clean up our environment and improve life for people in Greater Manchester.’
According to Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM), 99% of respondents to the consultation agreed that air quality and carbon emissions are important areas of concern for Greater Manchester and 82% agreed or partially agreed that the plans set out the correct proposals and policies required to tackle these issues.
Members of the combined authority were told that a large number of comments in the consultation expressed support for some form of Clean Air Zone (CAZ) and that feasibility work would therefore continue.
Other comments included ‘the need to go further/be more ambitious in relation to cycling and walking initiatives’, the need to identify additional actions to drive forward public engagement and behaviour change and ‘strong support for the consideration of various parking measures and restrictions’.
The plans were amended to reflect these comments, including ‘a commitment to review the strategy around parking, including consideration for electric vehicles and workplace parking’.
They will be finalised and published later this year and will be progressed alongside the Greater Manchester Transport Strategy 2040, a draft of which is currently out for public consultation.