Greater Manchester transport operators slam pollution fines

people walk on pavement with bus behind Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Buses should be "part of the solution", a representative body says

Transport bosses have criticised plans for daily £100 fines that form part of a clean air zone strategy for Greater Manchester.

High-polluting buses, lorries and taxis are due to be fined from 2021 if plans are approved by the government.

Privately-owned cars will not be affected, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) added.

Gary Nolan, who represents the region's bus operators, said "buses should be seen as the solution, not the problem".

"Making bus services a lot better, will move people out of cars… once you get more people using buses, there's less congestion, less pollution - simple."

Clean air plans

Image copyright Greater Manchester Combined Authority
Image caption GMCA published a map in 2018 showing the roads with the worst pollution
  • Estimates show polluted air contributes to the equivalent of 1,200 deaths a year in the region, GMCA has said
  • About 150 roads across Greater Manchester are exceeding legal limits of harmful nitrogen dioxide (NO2), according to the government
  • The plans aims to cut air quality levels to under the limits by reducing NO2 emissions
  • A £7.50 per daily charge is due to be introduced for vans from 2023
  • GMCA said it will ask the government for £116m in loans and incentives to help businesses change to cleaner vehicles

The penalty for driving a high-polluting bus or lorry would be £100 a day, and for a high-polluting taxi, £7.50 a day from 2021.

The term "high-polluting" has been defined as:

  • buses and HGVs built before 2013
  • diesel cars built before 2015
  • petrol cars built before 2005
  • vans and mini buses built before 2016

Currently, 90% of buses and 85% of taxis licensed in Greater Manchester do not comply.


Christopher Snelling, from the Freight Transport Association, said the daily fines would mainly affect small firms using lorries who could relocate to outside the region or stop doing business in Greater Manchester.

He said that the rate of firms' renewing their fleets means all their vehicles would meet Euro standards after a few years.

"The problem we have with clean air zones like this is they're not a big help [...] all they do is bring forward what is going to happen in two years' time anyway.

"It's about achieving legal compliance so the UK doesn't get fined and that's why we find it so frustrating."

Green campaign group Friends of the Earth said previously that clean air zones must "must include all vehicle types" and that it was "dismayed" that Greater Manchester "will not tackle illegal levels of air pollution before 2024".

Mayor Andy Burnham said including private cars in the scheme "would be a disproportionate thing to do".

The proposals come after the government instructed more than 60 areas across the UK to consider introducing a clean air zone.

If approved, Greater Manchester would have the largest clean air zone outside of London by 2024.

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