Urban parts of Greater Manchester look set to follow the lead of London after plans to develop the area’s low-emissions strategy were approved by council leaders.
The Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) has agreed a revised Greater Manchester Low-Emission Strategy and Air Quality Action Plan following a public consultation, which ended last week.
The plans include a range of measures to improve air quality and reduce emissions across Greater Manchester, focusing on urban centres and major roads that currently fail to meet Government and EU air quality targets.
Among the improvements is the adoption of an all-new bus fleet that takes advantage of the latest Euro 6 and hybrid technology, an increase in the number of electric vehicle charging points and a study to investigate the feasibility of a Clean Air Zone, similar to the Ultra Low Emissions Zone proposed by Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.
The proposals were also ratified by the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee (TGMC). A more detailed version of the plans will be finalised and published later this year, a spokesman for the GMCA confirmed.
According to TGMC, the pollutants causing the most concern are nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter – overwhelmingly caused by road transport – with the city currently not expected to meet EU limits until 2020.. During the public consultation period, 99% of respondents said air quality and carbon emissions were important areas of concern and needed to be addressed.
Tony Lloyd, interim mayor of Greater Manchester, said: “Air pollution and carbon emissions 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.”
Dr Jon Lamonte, chief executive of Transport for Greater Manchester, said: “Ultimately, we need to make low-emission behaviours an important part of our culture and lifestyles. That will require the commitment of a range of organisations as we continue to grow as one of the UK’s foremost city regions.”
LOW-EMISSION STRATEGY AND
AIR QUALITY ACTION PLAN
Air quality and carbon emissions are two of the key challenges facing Greater Manchester. There is strong evidence that air pollution and greenhouses gases cause significant harm to the environment and to the health of our communities, and can damage our economy.
Both short- and long-term exposure to air pollutants can affect people’s health, with poor air quality a contributory factor in respiratory illness, cardiovascular disease and some cancers.
Nitrogen oxides (NOx), specifically nitrogen dioxide (NO2), and particulates (PM) are the air pollutants causing most concern. The UK Government accepts that many urban areas, including Greater Manchester, will not meet EU legal limits for airborne NO2 levels until 2020 under current air quality plans.
Greater Manchester already has an Air Quality Strategy and Action Plan and Climate Change Strategy, and emissions in the region are falling and are forecasted to continue to fall. However, without further action, they will not meet the necessary targets in the near future and will continue to pose serious health, environmental and economic challenges.
On behalf of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) recently consulted on the draft new Greater Manchester Low-Emission Strategy (LES) and Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP), complementing the Greater Manchester Climate Change Strategy and Implementation Plan which focus on measures to reduce energy usage.
The LES and AQAP aim to tackle emissions from road transport in order to improve air quality and to contribute to a reduction in CO2 emissions.
They propose a range of policies and measures to reduce air pollution as a contributor to ill-health; support the UK Government in meeting EU air quality air quality thresholds; contribute to a reduction in Greater Manchester’s carbon footprint; and encourage a low-emission culture in the city region.
As Greater Manchester’s economy and population grow, there is increased demand for public and private transport and for movement of goods. The need to achieve tough targets for air quality improvement and carbon reduction will require strong commitment from a wide range of organisations and potentially radical solutions to support the region’s economic, social and environmental ambitions.
To find out more about the LES and AQAP, please click here to see a summary of each section of the strategy and action plan and a link to the full text, plus a downloadable PDF of the full draft strategy and action plan document.
Comments submitted during the public consultation are being taken into consideration ahead of the Greater Manchester Low-Emission Strategy and Air Quality Action Plan being finalised and published on the TfGM website later in 2016.
For further information, please contact GMLES@tfgm.com.