The next steps for GM's clean air proposals and why it's vital we care

The next steps for GM's clean air proposals and why it's vital we care

David Molyneux

Air pollution is Wigan’s and Greater Manchester’s number one environmental public health problem – and it's time for change.

A seven-week consultation has just finished and it asked people in the region about their thoughts on proposals to clean up our air so thank you to everyone who took the time to get involved.

Polluted air is estimated to contribute to the equivalent of 1,200 deaths in Greater Manchester each year so never has it been more important for people to have their say.

Poor air affects us all but children, older people and those with existing health conditions worst.

One of the main sources of air pollution is road traffic, and in particular, nitrogen dioxide (NO2) from diesel vehicles.

Pollution level projections by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) have pointed out that three sites around Wigan town centre including King Street West, Darlington Street and Warrington Road will be over the legal limit for nitrogen dioxide pollution from 2020 if urgent action is not taken.

Wigan Council along with the nine other GM local authorities, and supported by TfGM, has developed ambitious proposals to tackle the urgent problem of roadside air pollution across the region. They include:

  • A Greater Manchester Clean Air Zone which the most polluting buses, coaches, HGVs, vans, taxis and private hire vehicles would pay a daily penalty to drive in.
  • A multi-million-pound funding package to support local businesses and sole traders to upgrade to cleaner vehicles.
  • Trebling the number of electric vehicle public charging points.
  • Support to help GM to switch to cleaner transport.

Despite that the consultation is now over, we will continue to work with businesses of all types and sizes to understand how the proposals could affect them and to make sure that the right funding from government and support is available to help them switch to cleaner vehicles or retrofit their older, most polluting vehicles.

But there will be another chance to have your say. A statutory public consultation will follow, giving another opportunity for comment and feedback before proposals are resubmitted to local authorities for their further consideration and approval.

A Full Business Case would then be developed and submitted to government. Subject to government approval and funding, measures would be introduced from 2020, with the Clean Air Zone being introduced in two phases from 2021 and 2023.

In the meantime, there is lots of ways we can all help to clean up the air we breathe. Simple changes like walking or cycling for shorter journeys or the school run – or switching your engine off when you’re at a standstill for a while, can make a real difference.

Ultimately, we have to tackle this collectively and I support the development of the Greater Manchester Clean Air Plan.

Make sure you find out more about this crucial issue now, where you can also sign up for the latest clean air news and updates (external link).

By Cllr David Molyneux, Leader of Wigan Council.

Posted on Friday 12th July 2019

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