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Greater Manchester Low-Emission Strategy and Air Quality Action Plan

GMCA Meeting on Friday

This Friday's GMCA meeting has been moved from Bolton to Manchester.

Improving air quality and reducing harmful emissions

We’re working hard to improve air quality and reduce carbon emissions, two of the most important challenges facing Greater Manchester.

There’s strong evidence that air pollution and greenhouses gases cause significant harm to the environment and to the health of communities, and can damage our economy.

Both short- and long-term exposure to air pollutants can affect people’s health, with poor air quality contributing to respiratory illness, heart disease and some cancers.

The most serious air pollutants are nitrogen oxides and particulates. Greater Manchester road transport accounts for 65% of nitrogen oxide and 79% of particulate emissions, along with 31% of carbon dioxide emissions.

On behalf of the GMCA, Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) has developed the Greater Manchester Low-Emission Strategy and Greater Manchester Air Quality Action Plan, concentrating on ways to tackle emissions from road transport to improve air quality and to help in reducing carbon dioxide emissions. These complement the Greater Manchester Climate Change and Low Emissions Implementation Plan, which focuses on making the most of the region’s energy and resources through reducing its carbon footprint.

Greater Manchester Low-Emission Strategy

The Greater Manchester Low-Emission Strategy takes a long-term approach to carbon emissions and air quality, aiming to reduce emissions from transport and encourage sustainable travel including public transport, cycling and walking.

The Low-Emission Strategy gives a framework for policies and measures to:

  • reduce air pollution as a contributor to ill-health in Greater Manchester;
  • support the UK Government in meeting EU air quality thresholds;
  • help reduce Greater Manchester’s carbon footprint; and
  • encourage a low-emission culture.

Greater Manchester Air Quality Action Plan

The Greater Manchester Air Quality Action Plan sets out measures which will reduce air pollution while supporting the sustainable economic growth of the region.

In this plan ‘Key Priority Areas’ have been identified – locations with the highest levels of air pollution near major roads and areas with heavy traffic in towns and cities – where most work will be focused.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) have been set to help track and measure actions:

  • Reduce traffic: for example, by encouraging travellers to switch from cars to use public transport, cycle and walk more;
  • Increase efficiency: improving traffic flow by reducing congestion and stop-start travel to decrease air pollution peaks and to lower emissions overall; and
  • Improve fleet: by encouraging the replacement of older, more polluting vehicles with newer, smaller, cleaner, lower-emission vehicles.

Actions in the Air Quality Action Plan have been divided into seven main areas:
  • Development management and planning regulation: including standardisation of regulation and policy across Greater Manchester;
  • Freight and HGVs: to reduce emissions associated with the movement of freight and goods by road;
  • Buses: buses have a vital role to play in public transport. New legislation and the development of Greater Manchester's 2040 transport strategy will assist in growing bus usage and improving vehicle standards;
  • Cycling: building on existing strategies and initiatives to encourage cycling as an attractive and convenient way to travel;
  • Travel Choices: encouraging the public and businesses to make sustainable travel choices is essential in improving air quality;
  • Cars: measures to reduce emissions from cars and reduce the number of vehicle trips can make real improvements; and
  • Information and resources: education and providing information to the public, businesses and policy makers is vital in bringing air quality improvements.



Helen Smith, 
Head of Logistics,
Environment and Active Travel
Transport for Greater Manchester

Matthew O’Neill,
Lead Air Quality Officer
Transport for Greater Manchester

Twitter: @OfficialTfGM