A London-style clean-air charging zone and car-free neighbourhoods are needed to clean up Manchester’s ‘poisonous’ air, a new report has said.

The study from think tank IPPR North said Manchester’s air pollution is, by some measures, considerably worse than that of London and that ‘urgent action’ must be taken.

Of particular concern to the IPPR study was the city’s highly polluting bus fleet. In London, 37 percent of buses meet the Euro 6 emission standards, compared with just 10 percent in Manchester. As a result, IPPR North has asked the local government to ensure that a third of the city’s bus fleet uses Euro 6-compliant hybrid or electric power by 2021.

However, the IPPR report suggested taking action on all aspects of the city’s traffic pollution, recommending that the mayor implements Clean Air Zones that charge drivers to enter polluted areas, as well as schemes to restrict vehicle access for HGVs and buses. The report even suggests ‘car-free’ days, during which no cars would be allowed into parts of the city.

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Manchester City Council said it was investing in improved air quality, but that it needed assistance from central government in achieving its aims.

Councillor Angeliki Stogia said: ‘We share the IPPR's concern about air pollution levels in Manchester which is why Manchester City Council have invested, and continue to invest, heavily in improvements to public transport in Manchester and boosting the experience of cyclists and pedestrians in the city along with our Transport for Greater Manchester colleagues. We are also making a major contribution to Greater Manchester-wide plans to address this important issue, which will be published by the end of the year.

‘We look to the government to provide better national incentives to encourage the use of cleaner vehicles, as well as supporting further investment in modern infrastructure and addressing the current crisis affecting local rail services.’