All Bury's Clean Air Zone signs and those across Greater Manchester are to be removed if an alternative approach by the combined authority is approved by the central government.

Metro mayor Andy Burnham and his lead for clean air, Bury Council leader Cllr Eamonn O'Brien, revealed this alternative approach to the press and to the public during an event at Greater Manchester Combined Authority's headquarters on Wednesday.

In 2022, a charging scheme was scrapped in favour of a non-charging scheme, which was submitted to the central government around a year and a half ago. It came after a big backlash to the idea in the region. 

The Environment Secretary asked for additional evidence comparing the impact of a charging scheme to the impact of a non-charging scheme and this additional evidence is ready to be resubmitted to the central government once approved by the Greater Manchester Air Quality Administration Committee on December 20.

Bury Times: Andy Burnham and Eamonn O'Brien

Mr Burnham and Cllr O'Brien said it is fairer and faster for the region to reach its targets on the amount of nitrogen dioxide in the atmosphere through an investment than it is through the introduction of the charges.

They asked for more than £80m to be spent in areas like upgrades to buses and bus depots as part of the rollout of the Bee Network and upgrades to taxis to low-emission vehicles or zero-emission vehicles.

Mr Burnham said: "By accelerating investment in the Bee Network and upgrading GM-licensed taxis, we can improve air quality faster than if we introduced a Clean Air Zone and without causing hardship to our residents."

Mr Burnham added: "I would ask the government to consider allowing Greater Manchester's local authorities to remove Clean Air Zone signs as modelling shows only Greater Manchester’s investment-led plan can meet the test placed on the 10 councils to deliver compliance in the shortest possible time and by 2026 at the latest."

Bury Times: The event at GMCA HQ on Wednesday

At the time of a Freedom of Information request last year there was a total of 144 Clean Air Zone signs in Bury. A breakdown by borough of the cost was not available but it was estimated at an average of £1,000 per sign.

Mr Burnham did not deny this money and the money spent on "Under Review" stickers was wasted but he said the responsibility for this lies in Westminster.

He said: "What they've done is they've dropped the policy on local authorities with as few fingerprints on it as possible and without the funding. They've left local authorities all over the country carrying the can for this situation."

He added: "It can't be right we are carrying the can and when we look around to be supported by the government they're nowhere to be seen and in our case they're standing in the House of Commons campaigning against us."

This article was written by Jack Tooth. To contact him, email or follow @JTRTooth on Twitter.