Government unveils plans to tackle vehicle pollution

12.00 | 27 July 2017 | | 3 comments

Image: the British Lung Foundation

The Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS) is urging the Government not to overlook safety needs in its quest to improve air quality.

Yesterday (26 July), the Government unveiled new plans to tackle air pollution – including ending the sale of all new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040.

Other measures, such as changing road layouts to reduce congestion, encouraging uptake of ultra-low emissions vehicles and retrofitting public transport are also being championed under the new strategy.

Produced by Defra and the Department for Transport, the plan outlines ways in which councils with the worst levels of air pollution at busy road junctions and hotspots could take ‘robust’ action.

Councils will now be asked to produce initial plans to reduce pollution within eight months and final plans by the end of next year.

While supportive of the need to improve air quality, PACTS is urging councils not to overlook safety – especially when removing speed humps in the name of public health.

PACTS says that speed humps are proven to be one of the most effective and inexpensive forms of speed control measure and have prevented large numbers of deaths and injuries, particularly among vulnerable road users.

David Davies, PACTS executive director, said: “PACTS strongly supports measures to improve air quality in our towns and cities. But the Government must not throw out the safety baby with the air quality bathwater.

“We need vehicles that are clean, driven at speeds that are safe. An increasing number of mayors, councils and organisations are endorsing Vision Zero with strategies to reduce death and serious injury from traffic to near zero.

“Air quality plans must work with them, not against them.”

The RAC has expressed concerns that the UK is not ready for the shift towards electric vehicles.

Nicholas Lyes, RAC roads policy spokesman, said: “The Government signalling the end of the sale of conventional petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040 is a bold move – but the reality is that the UK is nowhere near ready for such a sweeping shift to electric vehicles and a huge amount of work will need to be done to meet this deadline.

“While drivers are keen to reduce their emissions footprint and help clean up our air, they are concerned about the cost and battery range of electric vehicles.”



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    Perhaps the government haven’t noticed the huge development in high performance electric cars and motorbikes. Many are actually substantially faster than their internal combustion engine counterparts. And costs will continue to come down. Speed will still be a factor for some in the purchase of an electric (other fuels available) car. It will just be a’greener’high performance vehicle.

    Pat, Wales
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)


    They already know how to make vehicles less polluting.

    Put a cap on the acceleration.
    Limit the top speed.
    Use smaller and higher revving engines.
    Build lighter, smaller cars.

    But they don’t want to break the bubble of “speed sells”. What’s expensive is reducing pollution whilst keeping the same performance. They pander to a market that they directly influence themselves and then claim that its what their customers want. By 2040 few people may even want to drive a petrol or diesel car. What the government needs to do is to put some interventions into place now.

    Rod King, Cheshire, 20’s Plenty for Us
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    If vehicle manufacturers will have to stop selling new petrol and diesel vehicles after 2040 will they now stop the expensive development to refine them to make them less polluting? Why would they spend money trying to improve these engines when they know their life expectancy is so short? All research and development will now be switched to hybrid and e vehicles to the detriment of a generation of petrol and diesel vehicles still being pumped out.

    Looking to change the road layout is laudable but we should be looking at how we can reduce the need to travel. A recent report suggested teachers in London cannot afford to live there so are adding to the commute or leaving in droves. Working from home or remotely should be a major move to reduce traffic congestion. Journeys of any reasonable length will have to be done by public transport but that in the rural area is scarce and not reliable. If my daughter’s electric car is fueled from a nuclear power station she may be able to breath but there is a pollution issue that will need to be addressed, that is assuming she can find a charging point in the countryside. The politicians on the radio suggested it will be a problem to be addressed nearer 2040. They could not say how their plan could work.

    Peter City of Westminster
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