The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport says government’s plan should have supported the introduction of charges for polluting vehicles

 

Traffic in London

 

The government could do better than its “weak and timid” plan to tackle poor air quality, particularly given the urgency of public health risks, according to The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport.

The professional body for individuals and companies associated with logistics and transport believes that charging polluting vehicles to enter Clean Air Zones is the only way to quickly bring down excessive – and illegal – levels of NO2 concentrations. These concentrations exist in many UK towns and cities and are known to be injurious to health.

The government’s draft Air Quality Plan treated charging as a last resort after all other methods could be shown to fail. CILT is disappointed to see that the final plan, published last month by the Department for Transport and the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, “perpetuates this same approach”.

The government has issued direction to 23 designated local authorities to prepare and evaluate options to bring NO2 concentrations within legal limits by March 2018, and to have firm implementation plans by December 2018. Among the various options available, the onus is placed entirely on local authorities to make the case for charging non-compliant vehicles. CILT sees this as is a “weak and timid” approach.

Tens of thousands of people die prematurely each year because of air pollution, and yet government in its Air Quality proposals fails to provide an effective lead

“Tens of thousands of people die prematurely each year because of air pollution, and yet government in its Air Quality proposals fails to provide an effective lead,” commented Daniel Parker-Klein, head of policy at CILT.

“The government’s own research concludes that charging non-compliant vehicles to enter Clean Air Zones (CAZs) is the only way to quickly and cost effectively improve air quality. Not providing political ‘cover’ and requiring local authorities to make the case for charging, only once all other routes are exhausted, is a wholly inadequate approach.”

Greener Journeys, the pro-public transport lobby group has also criticised the government’s failure to back charges for polluting vehicles, claiming that its plan “stops short of meaningful action” (PT165).

Campaign for Better Transport has also called for charging zones. “Rather than yet more feasibility studies we urgently need practical measures that will deliver cleaner air from day one,” said Bridget Fox, sustainable transport campaigner at the group. “That means giving local authorities the power to introduce charging zones and to ban the most polluting vehicles from pollution hotspots.”

CILT is pleased to see that the Air Quality Plan does now contain a new option for local authorities – recommended by the institute in response to the draft plan – to consider the simple exclusion of old, polluting vehicles from CAZs as an alternative to charging. It points out that this already happens in some 200 towns and cities in 13 countries across Europe.

CILT recommends that this option should be explored by local authorities as a practical approach to tackle euro-emission requirements for compliant vehicles. It can be introduced initially for older vehicles, and then progressively tightened over time as the community gets used to the measures.

The Air Quality Plan attracted headlines for its commitment to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans from 2040. CILT says that this is a welcome step that will bring benefits of CO2 reduction as well as improving local air quality.

However, CILT feels that this announcement “does nothing to help the immediate air quality problems which require determined action now”.

 

This article appears in the latest issue of Passenger Transport.

DON’T MISS OUT – GET YOUR COPY! – click here to subscribe!