A cross-party group of MPs has called for car manufacturers to fund a new Clean Air Act which would “enshrine the right to clean air in UK law”.
In the published findings of a joint inquiry carried out by four select committees the assembled group has said that the founding of a new clean air fund should be set up on the basis that the “polluter pays”.
The enquiry also recommended bringing forward from 2040, the date from which the sale of conventional petrol and diesel will be banned, accused ministers of putting off tough action on emissions for “political convenience”.
Quoted in The Guardian newspaper, Neil Parish MP, chair of the environment food and rural affairs committee, which joined with the health, transport and environmental audit committees in undertaking the inquiry, said: “The government’s latest plan does not present an effective response to the scale of the air quality catastrophe in the UK. Real change will require bold, meaningful action.”
Andrew Selous MP, acting chair of the health committee, said: “It is concerning that children, the elderly, and those with pre-existing health conditions are most at risk. Action must be taken to combat this national health emergency.”
Further emissions-based taxes – like the London T-Charge and recent rises in road tax for diesel cars – have also been suggested by the report, along with a new public health campaign to highlight the dangers of air pollution and the targeted installation of charging stations for electric vehicles based on air quality “hotspots”.
Greater support should also be forthcoming for the 45 local authorities that are in breach of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) limits, the inquiry found.
Karen Hilton, commercial director at independent car buying website carwow, was quick to highlight the potential impact of the inquiry’s findings.
She claims that she was concerned about the repercussions for car buyers, stating: “If manufacturers are hit with further levies - at a time when the industry is already under considerable pressure - those costs will filter down to the public. Meaning motorists will be effectively punished again just because they own a car.
“The industry take their responsibility seriously and manufacturers are investing hard to drive change.
“For the last six months they have independently funded scrappage schemes, without financial support from the government, to get older, more polluting, vehicles off the road.
“It is the manufacturers who have also been spearheading initiatives to drive buyers to purchase new cleaner diesel models - while battling against a tide of scaremongering and unclear messages from the government which have undoubtedly hindered efforts and speed
“Everyone wants to improve air quality. But is making the car industry the fall guy - rather than working in collaboration on a joint initiative - the right way to support a £71.6bn industry that is being hit time and time again with government criticism, rather than guidance?”