RECENTLY there has been a great deal of public interest in the Greater Manchester Clean Air Zone charge proposals drawn up by Mayor Andy Burnham and the local authorities of Greater Manchester, such as Wigan Council.

The proposals they came up with were to make the entirety of Greater Manchester a Clean Air Charging Zone, with charges ranging from swingeing to crippling for taxi firms, white van men, bus and coach companies and HGV drivers, amongst others.

They didn't have to do it this way. Every other local authority in the country came up with other ways to bring air quality under control, and many thought the mayor and Wigan Council were using this as an excuse to sneakily reintroduce the hated congestion charge proposals that residents rejected back in 2008 in a referendum. Just like the Brexit referendum, it seems like the local authorities decided the best way to deal with a result they didn't like was to ignore it until the public protest became too big to ignore.

Birmingham, for example, came up with a zone that covered just five square miles of the city centre, other local authorities invested in infrastructure such as improved junctions and new bypasses, and avoided implementing a Clean Air Zone altogether. Only Greater Manchester came up with a plan that included every inch of the local authorities involved, a nearly 500 square mile area.

The plan that the mayor and local authorities came up with was never workable. We have seen high profile protests by affected local residents in recent weeks, such as farmers taking sheep and ponies onto buses in protest at the colossal charges they would face by simply moving their livestock from one field to another.

I, along with other Conservative MPs from Greater Manchester and the surrounding areas, recently met with Secretary of State for the Environment, George Eustice, in order to raise our collective concerns over this issue, The meeting was incredibly positive, and we asked that George intervene to stop this disastrous scheme from going ahead.

In order to rewrite a scheme such as the CAZ once it was adopted, the mayor and local authorities have to refer it back to the Secretary of State for approval to make changes. The day after my meeting with the Secretary of State, the Mayor and local authorities did just this, bowing to increasing public pressure to drop the current plans.

Obviously, things are moving very fast at the moment on this issue, but I hope to be able to report a positive decision from the Secretary of State very shortly.

The only question that remains for now is, how did the mayor and local authorities take so much time and spend so many millions of taxpayers' money to make such as hash of this in the first place?

One way or another, it is important that the mayor and Wigan Council go back to the drawing board, and come up with proposals to deal with air quality that won't bankrupt half the small businesses in the area