New Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham has poured cold water on proposals to charge the most polluting vehicles to enter some areas in the region.
The Manchester Evening News said it had obtained a document that it believes is from Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM), setting out a £20m scheme to meet clean-air targets.
Andy Burnham, mayor of Greater Manchester
It said transport bosses are considering plans to introduce Clean Air Zones (CAZs) within Manchester city centre and areas in Bolton and Bury by 2020, using 66 number plate recognition cameras around the charging areas.
These would target vehicles that infringe emission standards – mostly diesel cars but also older petrol vehicles, the paper said. Drivers of buses and HGVs would also have to pay.
However, Mr Burnham told the BBC: ‘I have no intention of introducing charges on the ordinary motorist. We need to improve the air quality in Greater Manchester but I have no plans for a congestion charge and no intention at all of punishing drivers of diesel [vehicles].’
He added that the draft report was a ‘document that was about starting the debate - about the options’.
The Government’s new draft national air quality plan, published earlier this month, suggests that local authorities in addition to London and five cities currently required to implement them should consider implementing CAZs.
A spokesperson for TfGM said it was working closely with environment department Defra on air quality policy, and was looking at the feasibility of CAZs.
The spokesperson said: ‘As such, this early-stage exploratory work, for which Defra provided funding, considers a wide range of possible options and scenarios and aims to assess a significant number of variables which need to be considered.
‘Over the course of the coming weeks we will be reviewing Defra’s national proposals in line with our Greater Manchester Low Emission Strategy and Air Quality Action Plan, and [the Greater Manchester Combined Authority] will be responding to the consultation as appropriate.’