Greater Manchester clean air zone targets trucks, buses, vans & taxis with daily penalties

28 Aug 2019


Operators of commercial and passenger vehicles which are more than 4 years old, are facing some stark choices with the introduction of the Greater Manchester Clean Air Zone in 2021. Vehicles entering the 500 square mile zone after that date, will be hit with hefty penalties if they do not meet the Euro Emission 6 Standard (Euro 6)

Euro 6 engines became mandatory for all vehicles manufactured from 1st September 2015. Any vehicle manufactured before this date, is unlikely to meet the emission requirements.

The Clean Air Zone will;

  • Cover all 10 Greater Manchester local council areas. It is an area of over 500 square miles and has a population of almost 3 million people.
  • Apply to local roads (not motorways and some main trunk roads managed by Highways England).
  • Operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Mean a daily penalty for non-compliant vehicles driving into, inside and through Greater Manchester

Which Vehicles are affected?

Vehicles affected by the Clean Air Zone and the daily penalties they face from 2021 are;

  • HGV’s (vehicles with a GVW over 3.5 Tonnes). Penalty £100 p/day
  • Buses & Coaches. Penalty £100 p/day
  • * Vans, Minibuses, Motorhomes and Motorised horse boxes.  Penalty £7.50 p/day
  • * Taxis/Private hire vehicles. Penalty £7.50  p/day

* Originally planned for 2023, but now proposed for 2021.

Why the need for a Clean Air Zone?

Local authorities all over the UK are working to clean the air we breathe. The greatest health threat from air pollution is posed by road transport emissions. The main problems are nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter (usually tiny particles caused by traffic). These are linked to a wide range of illnesses and early deaths.

No-one can deny that action needs to be taken. Most would support the government’s initiative to instruct local authorities to bring NO2 levels on local roads to an acceptable level as soon as possible.

The issue is not opposition to Greater Manchester’s, or any other authorities Clean Air Plans.  The issue is that businesses throughout the UK, will be burdened with financial and operational demands, with no apparent consideration as to how they will manage them. Furthermore, they will be expected to meet these demands by 2021. Worryingly, that is just 16 months away.

The Effect on Businesses

It’s important to note that although this article concerns Greater Manchester, it’s inevitable that other local authorities will follow suit. Businesses therefore need to review their vehicle replacement plans as a whole, to ensure that they can continue to operate throughout the UK. Another important consideration is that this is not just a transport sector issue. Any business operating a commercial vehicle will be affected.

To avoid the penalties, operators will have no option but to upgrade to Euro 6 vehicles. Not an easy task considering the limited time left to comply. The plummeting value of non-compliant, pre Euro 6 vehicles, along with the inevitable scarcity and higher prices of new and used Euro 6 vehicles, will further compound the situation.

It’s no exaggeration to say that many businesses will face a complete re-structure of their financial and operational plans to finance this unexpected and considerable expenditure. If we are to avoid businesses abandoning growth plans, reducing in size or even folding altogether, their issues need to be recognised, considered and addressed.

Where are we now, and what can we do?

To date there has been an initial 7 week “clean air conversation” involving the 10 Greater Manchester local authorities, the general public, and Manchester businesses. The result will be published in due course. The next stage will be a formal consultation period which will commence in October this year.

St. Helens Chamber would like to hear from local businesses to gauge their reaction to this information. Our objective is to get a clear picture of the effect that the Clean Air Zone will have on them, and on the overall economy of St. Helens.

So, if you are a business owner or manager, and you would like to air your views on this matter, we would like to hear from you. We have set up a short online questionnaire which we would like you to complete. Your input is vital, please click here to register and take part.

For more information on the Clean Air Plan, visit If you would like to discuss directly please contact John Woods, 01744 742058