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The mayor of Manchester, Andy Burnham, should introduce a Clean Air Zone and a Workplace Parking Levy within 12 months to improve the air quality in the city, a new report has suggested.

According to the influential think-tank IPPR, the city ranks as the second-worst – after London – for PM10 pollution, which is linked to lung cancer and asthma. Its new report, ‘Atmosphere: Towards a proper strategy for tackling Greater Manchester’s Air Pollution’, additionally claims the city’s “air quality crisis” is costing the economy £1billion a year.

Its recommendations includes the introduction of a Clean Air Zone as soon as possible “in order for Manchester to take seriously its air pollution crisis”.

Exhaust Pollution

According to the report’s authors, introducing such a scheme could reduce NOx emissions by up to 40%, with the report suggesting the mayor create a bespoke Greater Manchester CAZ, which is “based upon known vehicle movements in and out of the city centre”.

A Workplace Parking Levy is also mooted as a strong solution to battle pollution, IPPR said, with it claiming NOx emissions could be reduced by 10-15% after an implementation, based on the “success” of the scheme in Nottingham.

However, the think-tank suggests charging businesses with five or more parking spaces, half the number of spaces required for companies to pay the tax in Nottingham.

On top of the ‘big ticket’ recommendations made above, IPPR suggested the mayor should enhance electric vehicle charging infrastructure within the city in order to encourage motorists and fleets to make a switch to EVs, while the think-tank also suggests car clubs “could transform” car usage in the city.

“The human cost of this air pollution crisis to Greater Manchester cannot be overstated.  People’s lives are being cut short, our children’s health is being put at risk and this is before you even consider the £1bn annual economic burden that poor quality air places on the local economy,” said director of IPPR North, Sarah Longlands. “For too long, the debate on air pollution has been focused on London. But now for the first time, we understand the full extent of the problem in Greater Manchester. We simply cannot allow this to continue.There must be no delay. We need to see immediate and ambitious action from Government and from local leaders.”