THE government has defended its rejection of Greater Manchester’s Mayor Andy Burnhams bid for £116million towards a new clean air zone.

A spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has hinted that cash could be on the way to help businesses reduce pollution from their vehicles.

Mr Burnham wanted the money to clean up the emissions from lorries, vans, taxis and buses.

Instead the government offered £36m ring-fenced for enforcement cameras and ordered that the date for fining 'dirty' vans be brought forward from 2023 to 2021.

The Defra spokesman said: “We have provided £36 million to support Greater Manchester’s clean air zone.

“We have also made clear we will provide further funding for businesses and affected individuals, however until the authority comes forward with its final evidence-based plan, we cannot provide the individual funding they are asking for. It is incorrect to compare this situation to London considering the extensive funding we have already given Manchester to support cleaner transport.”