Greener Journeys says government plan won’t address public health crisis because it fails to back the introduction of charges for polluting vehicles

 

The plan will see sales of new petrol and diesel cars and vans banned by 2040

 

The government’s Air Quality Plan will fail to address public health concerns because it fails to address the biggest cause of roadside air pollution – traffic congestion. That is the verdict of Greener Journeys, the pro-public transport lobby group, which argues that the plan should have encouraged congestion charging.

The government published its final revised UK Air Quality Plan this week, announcing that sales of new petrol and diesel cars and vans will be banned by 2040. It also announced a £255m fund to help tackle emissions from diesel vehicles, but it stopped short of introducing charges for polluting vehicles in Clean Air Zones.

Unless we tackle congestion, this won’t solve the air pollution crisis

“This plan stops short of meaningful action that will immediately address this public health crisis,” commented Greener Journeys chief executive Claire Haigh. “We can’t afford to kick the can down the road to 2040 – there are already 38 local authorities where people are breathing air which exceeds legal NOx limits.”

While welcoming the plan’s commitment to retrofitting buses with equipment that reduces emissions, Haigh said that penalty charges are the only effective way of keeping drivers away from city centres and encouraging them to switch to more sustainable modes, such as bus, bike or train.

“Unless we tackle congestion, this won’t solve the air pollution crisis,” she said.

Haigh added: “The latest Euro VI diesel buses are incredibly clean and produce fewer emissions overall than a Euro 6 diesel car, and 10 times fewer on a per passenger basis. Instead of waiting until 2040, we could begin improving air quality now if the government is prepared to get tough and address the root cause of the problem, which is the number of diesel cars and vans on the road.”

 

This article appears in the latest issue of Passenger Transport.

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