Blanket diesel car taxes ‘not the answer’

The UK motor industry has said that any blanket diesel taxes or measures that fail to differentiate between new and old technology “are not the answer” to addressing air pollution in London.

Diesel cars were the best sellers in 2014

Diesel cars were the best sellers in 2014

The London Assembly’s environment committee today (July 14) published a report calling for more action to curb air pollution from diesel vehicles in the capital, making a number of recommendations on buses, taxis and the ultra low emission zone (ULEZ) planned for central London from 2020 (see story).

Although not fully endorsed by two Conservative Party members on the committee, the report called for, among other things, a diesel scrappage scheme, introducing the ULEZ before 2020 and an “urgent” review of the recently announced changes to Vehicle Excise Duty so that it better reflects “local toxic pollutants such as NOx and PM as well as carbon dioxide”.

However, while the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said it was pleased the London Assembly report “recognises the huge strides made by the automotive industry in reducing vehicle emissions”, it argues against earlier implementation of the 2020 ULEZ.


It also claims that modern diesels “virtually eliminate particulate matter” and that the latest Euro-6 compliant vehicles also “deliver significant NOx savings”.

SMMT states: “In fact, real world TfL tests using the London 159 Bus Route show a 95% reduction in NOx from Euro-6 vehicles over their older counterparts. That’s an extraordinary achievement, and industry welcomes new testing for Euro-6 passenger cars in 2017 that better reflects the infinite variations of real world driving conditions.”

It added: “The London ULEZ will play a key role in driving the market for these advanced, low emission vehicles, and crucially the 2020 deadline gives consumers and businesses time to adapt. Industry is doing its job by developing the cleanest vehicles in history, and now policy makers must do their bit by encouraging their uptake, and by tackling congestion to keep them moving.“

The organisation added that air pollution “is a local issue” that needs “local solutions to encourage uptake and greater efficiency”.

“Blanket taxes or measures that fail to differentiate between new and old technology are not the answer,” SMMT said.


Elsewhere, the London Assembly report was backed fully by Friends of the Earth campaigner Jenny Bates, who said: “Thousands of Londoners die prematurely every year as a result of our illegal air pollution. It’s a disgrace that a first class city should have third rate air quality.

“The London Mayor and government must take urgent steps to help end the scandal of London’s filthy air by tackling traffic levels and ensuring that our vehicles are cleaner. More must be done to encourage people to leave their cars at home, and greater investment is needed in better public transport, cycling and walking facilities.”


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