A PETITION to stop a Clean Air Zone charge being imposed on vehicles driving in Bolton and across Greater Manchester has gained more than 14,000 signatures, prompting the Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham to respond.

Signs promoting the controversial scheme have gone up across Greater Manchester – with the first roadside camera to enforce the Clean Air Zone policy across Greater Manchester being installed in Bolton in September.

Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras will be used enforce any non-payment of daily charges that will come with the Greater Manchester wide Clean Air Zone.

Charges vary from £7.50 to £60 daily for non compliant HGVs, buses, coaches, vans, mini-buses, taxes and certain categories of motorhomes. Charges are set to be brought in from May, staggered until June 2023

Private cars, motorbikes and mopeds won’t be affected.

Failure to pay the charge will result in a £120 fine plus the daily charge.

Bolton West MP Chris Green has previously voiced his opposition to the charge, saying he believes it will be negative for business, and is concerned that this won’t just apply to larger vehicles in the future but all cars.

He is opposed to what he believes may become a ‘London system’, similar to the ‘congestion charge’.

Taxi drivers have spoken about their fears about the charge to The Bolton News and fear they could be driven off the road as a result

Today Metro Mayor, Andy Burnham responded to the petition, "To Stop Manchester Mayor Andy Burnhams 'Clean Air Charge' that starts in May 2022".

Taking to Twitter he said: "Given the number of names on this petition has gone over 10k, I thought I owed everyone who has signed it the courtesy of a reply.

"So here is an explanation of how we got to this point and a suggestion of where we go from here.

"Calling this 'Andy Burnham’s Clean Air Charge' implies two things: (1) that I instigated it; (2) that I have the legal power to stop it.

"Neither is true.

"The Government initiated the process which led to this and only they have the power to stop it or delay it.

"This said, even the Government would struggle to scrap it. In 2015, the Supreme Court ruled: a) it had broken the law by failing to protect people from polluted air (b) urgent action must be taken.

"This led to the Government placing legal instructions on local councils.

"As a result, all 10 GM councils were directed to reduce air pollution by 2024. This is because analysis has shown all 10 GM boroughs have places where air pollution breaches legal limits.

"The Government’s direction sets a Category C zone as the default solution.

"One criticism of the GM scheme is its size. It’s true this is a local decision. In effect, our councils had little choice. The alternative - a patchwork of local zones across 10 boroughs - would be unworkable. Boundaries would constantly change as pollution was transferred.

"While the decision rests with our councils, I was involved in all the discussions and together we agreed our best approach was to: exclude cars; accept a wide zone; and fight for financial support to help people change vehicles. After all, we’ll all benefit from cleaner air.

"To be fair, the Government has provided £120M. But there are two big problems: 1. They refused our request for extra funding for people on low incomes with the oldest vehicles. 2. Growing supply chain issues affecting prices and people’s ability to find a compliant vehicle."

He added that by deflecting attention away from the Government would not protect jobs and businesses in Greater Manchester.

Mr Burnham concludes "I believe the right way to go from here is for GM to fight as one for changes to the scheme to protect jobs and businesses.

"We will publish our proposals shortly as part of a GM campaign.

"We hope everyone who has signed this petition will feel able to get behind it."

For more information on financial help visit https://cleanairgm.com/