United Kingdom mulls clean-air zones, scrappage scheme for polluting vehicles

Clean air plan set to be published

Air pollution plan: Diesel scrappage scheme expected to be announced

The government was ordered to publish their draft air pollution plan despite attempts to delay publication until after the election.

Clean air zones could be set up in dozens of cities and towns according to the document.

Alternatively, it could be targeted at vehicles from a specific sector, particular areas or individuals.

And they suggest a scrappage scheme could see 9,000 of the most polluting diesel vehicles and 6,000 old petrol vehicles scrapped and replaced by electric models.

"Rather than taking responsibility for the quality of the air our children breathe, this Tory government is trying to palm this issue off onto cash-strapped local councils".

"We welcome the government's new plans to expand the number of Clean Air Zones in England, which are an effective and targeted approach to reducing air pollution and improving public health in cities", he said.

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Local authorities will be expected to set up "clean air zones" in the worst pollution hot spots, where levels of nitrogen dioxide have repeatedly breached legal levels.

In addition, it lists local authorities with roads with NO2 levels above legal limits and states: 'Local authorities will undertake local assessments to consider the best option to achieve statutory NO2 limit values within the shortest possible time'.

But the Tories ruled out "hitting motorists in the pocket" by imposing charging zones and increased parking charges.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, "SMMT welcomes the publication of government's proposals for improving air quality across the United Kingdom, which clearly states that the new Euro 6 diesels which have been on sale for the past two years will not face any penalty charges anywhere in the United Kingdom".

However, government modelling contained in the consultation documents suggests charging schemes are the most cost effective way of tackling air pollution and deliver the largest reduction in NO2 and NOx emissions by an order of magnitude. If the Government is swayed on the viability of a scrappage system, it would represent a U-turn on diesel vehicles, after years of policy and tax enablers saw diesel auto sales in Britain increase from 14% to 36%.

Ministers were ordered to draw up the new clean air plans following a court challenge by environmental lawyers ClientEarth, with the High Court ruling that existing government proposals to meet EU-mandated pollution limits were not sufficient. "We have a national health emergency, and the Government is kicking the issue into the long grass", said Gary Rae, campaigns director for road safety charity Brake.

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The plans are now open for public consultation until 15 June, ahead of the final air quality plan's publication on 31 July.

Environmental campaigners say the plans don't go far enough.

Khan said: "The government's proposals don't include a commitment for a new comprehensive Clean Air Act".

According to the Royal College of Physicians, air pollution across the United Kingdom is linked to around 40,000 premature deaths every year.

"A clear timeframe of implementation for clean air zones and new policies must be published to ensure businesses and consumers are aware of the changes and able to plan their investments, especially considering that many motorists were previously encouraged to purchase diesel vehicles". The application was rejected by the courts, but not before critics accused the Government of running scared from a crack down on heavily-polluting diesel cars.

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