Sales of New Petrol and Diesel Vehicles Banned from 2040
150 years of the combustion engine is set to end as the Government reveals the new Air Quality Strategy, which includes a ban on the sale of all petrol and diesel vehicles from 2040.
In the UK air pollution has breached legal limits every year since 2010 as set out by the EU. It is thought 40,000 people die prematurely as a result of air pollution. The Air Quality Strategy shows how the government propose to improve air quality across the UK. However, this isn’t the first attempt at the plan. Environmental activist group ClientEarth has repeatedly taken the government to court insisting previous plans did not go far enough to meet EU pollution limits... and the Judge agreed.
As a result, the government has been forced to come up with increasingly tougher measures. Even though the latest Air Quality Strategy is the toughest yet, many believe it does not go far enough.
What does the Air Quality Strategy Propose?
Ministers believe air pollution is the largest environmental risk to public health and estimate its effects cost up to £2.7bn in lost productivity per year. However, the Government is in a tricky position. The reason there are so many diesel cars, which are deemed the most polluting, on our roads now is largely due to the government promoting their use as the environmentally friendly option 10 years ago. The public trusted this opinion and diesel sales rocketed. We now have around 10 million diesel cars on our roads. The Government is keen to avoid punishing diesel drivers and facing a public backlash.
Government Spokesperson has said;
"Our plans to deal with dirty diesels will help councils clean up emissions hotspots - often a single road - through common sense measures which do not unfairly penalise ordinary working people.
Diesel drivers are not to blame and to help them switch to cleaner vehicles the Government will consult on a targeted scrappage scheme - one of a number of measures to support motorists affected by local plans.
Overall we are investing £3bn to tackle the effects of roadside pollution and supporting greener transport initiatives."
The strategy laid out by the Government identifies 81 major roads in 17 towns and cities as pollution hot spots which require urgent action as these regularly breach EU pollution limits. 48 of the most polluting roads can be found in London. The majority of pollution hot spots are on A roads, with stretches of the M4 near London and the M32 in Bristol the most polluting stretches of motorway.
The plans outlined can be viewed as immediate, near future and long-term actions to be taken to clean up the UK’s air with a promised investment of £3bn.
Initially, the government would like to avoid the imposition of taxes for the most polluting cars. Instead they would like councils to come up with ways to help traffic flow better to reduce emissions and make older public vehicles less polluting. These plans will include;
- Removing speed bumps – the slowing down and speeding up of traffic due to speed bumps has been shown to double emissions produced.
- Better sequencing of traffic lights – ideally drivers within the legal speed limit would come across more green lights than red reducing the need to slow down and idle and so therefore saving emissions.
- Changing road layouts – to ensure traffic flow at roundabouts and junctions is not unnecessarily restricted.
- Fining parents who idle at the school gates – Ministers are in favour of giving £80 on the spot fines to parents who are found with their engines running while waiting outside schools.
- Retrofitting filters to older diesel vehicles – councils would identify their most polluting vehicles such as buses and emergency vehicles and retrofit diesel filters to reduce the amount of pollution emitted.
To help councils with these changes £225m will be made available.
Actions in the Near Future
From 2020 councils will be permitted to introduce tough restrictions on the most polluting diesel vehicles to limit their use in pollution hot spots. However, these restrictions must be time limited, once air pollution levels have been reduced below legal limits the restriction must be lifted.
Creating Clean Air Zones, where polluting vehicles are charged to enter certain areas, are seen as the most effective way to reduce emissions, but the government is keen for taxation to be the last resort. This idea has already been approved for use in London from October with the introduction of the T-Charge.
In a similar move announced in France, the Government will ban the sale of all new petrol and diesel cars from 2040. This move will mark the end of the combustion engine after 150 years, a major moment in motoring history.
Full details on any possible diesel scrappage scheme are not available yet. The government will be meeting in October to discuss this issue and have said any scrappage scheme decided upon would be highly targeted to the most polluting vehicles.
The 2040 deadline allows only 22 years for vehicle manufacturers to prepare, electricity suppliers to ensure they can produce enough electricity and the number of charging stations to be vastly increased before the forced electric revolution hits our roads.
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