A new Government strategy, which sets out actions to meet air quality standards across Great Britain, includes proposals (among others) for local authorities to replace speed humps with other means to slow vehicles down.
Under the plan, published for consultation on 5 May, drivers of some older cars could be paid to move to electric vehicles. Other proposals include retrofitting engines on buses, lorries and black cabs with pollution-reducing technology, and establishing ‘clean air zones’ in dozens of cities and towns.
Local authorities are already responsible for improving air quality in their area, but the Government says they will now be expected to ‘develop new and creative solutions to reduce emissions as quickly as possible, while avoiding undue impact on the motorist’.
The road safety charity Brake has accused ministers of ‘abdicating responsibility’ by passing on the matter to local authorities.
Gary Rae, campaigns director for Brake, said: “It appears the government has abdicated responsibility for reducing air pollution to local authorities. If any issue needs tackling on a national – and international – level, it’s this one. We have a national health emergency, and the government is kicking the issue into the long grass.
“The idea that removing speed bumps on local roads will somehow reduce air pollution is both cynical and misguided. Most of the pollution comes from vehicles travelling on major routes, in big urban conurbations. Speed bumps are a red herring and the government knows it.”
While a majority of the proposals are welcomed by the RAC, the motorists’ organisation says it is ‘deeply worrying’ that local authorities could have an option of introducing chargeable clean air zones.
David Bizley, RAC chief engineer, said: “We welcome many of the proposals. However, it is deeply worrying that local authorities have an option of introducing chargeable clean air zones which would affect owners of relatively new diesel and some petrol vehicles.
“This potentially could impact millions of motorists and while the Government has said it wants to discourage authorities from going down this route, the strategy does not give a clear steer on how and when local authorities should implement which type of clean air zone.
“We believe that efforts should squarely be focused on tackling those oldest vehicles that do the highest number of miles in affected areas, and that charges to owners of all but the newest diesel cars should be an absolute last resort.”
The Government is seeking views on these proposals, which have been published after a long legal battle, in advance of preparing its final plan for publication by 31 July – in line with the timetable directed by the Courts. The consultation will run until 15 June.
Could speed bumps become a thing of the past?
11 April 2017