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Clean air policy must not demonise diesels, says NFDA

Sue Robinson, NFDA

The NFDA has urged the Government not to focus “solely on diesel” when it publishes its plan to improve the nation’s air quality.

Consultation is currently underway on a raft of proposals including the creation of clean air zones restricting the movement of diesel vehicles in many major cities and the possibility of a “targeted diesel scrappage scheme”.

The consultation will run until June 31, with the final plan due to be published by July 31.

But NFDA director Sue Robinson has urged the government to spread its net wider than simply focusing efforts on diesel vehicles.

She said: “With diesel cars’ emissions accounting for only 11% of London’s nitrogen dioxide (NOx) and approximately 18% of roadside NOx emissions across the UK, it is paramount that the Government adopts a wider approach which does not focus solely on diesel to quickly and efficiently tackle air quality issues.”

In March, the Government charged local authorities with developing new and creative solutions to reduce emissions as quickly as possible, while “avoiding undue impact on the motorist” in its daft plans.

A "targeted" car scrappage scheme was included as part of the scheme, but features in technical documents supporting the main consultation paper.

The proposed scheme could facilitate the replacement of 15,000 Euro 1-5 diesel cars and Euro 1-3 petrol cars with EVs in 2019 with the help of an £8,000 grant.

Most of the plans under consultation involve in the document revolve around the planning and implementation of a series of Clean Air Zones by local authorities, however.

These could see local authorities charge entry to vehicles which fall below minimum emission standards feature in the Government’s plans.

Robinson said that newer vehicles must be exempt from the charges and called for greater education on NOx emissions from Euro 6-compliant models. She said: “The automotive industry is working consistently to reduce nitrogen dioxide emitted from cars and we must continue to work hard to ensure that the public understands that modern Euro 6 diesels are cleaner and emit much lower NOx emissions than older diesel models.

“To further support local communities in cutting air pollution, investment in electric vehicles infrastructure is paramount. The recent NFDA research carried out by YouGov highlighted that the biggest barrier preventing motorists from purchasing an electric vehicle surrounded charging, before, during and at the end of a journey**. It is also essential that electric vehicle grants are significantly extended past 2018.

“While we continue to work with the Government to encourage the uptake of low emission vehicles, we also urge them to take our evidence into account and investigate all causes of air pollution.”

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