Motorists with diesel vehicles could be charged to enter city centres (or banned) to help UK meet air quality targets.
Proposals To Improve Air Quality In United Kingdom
Diesel car owners could be charged to enter cities – or banned entirely – in a bid to meet legally enforceable air quality standards. The United Kingdom is split into forty-three geographical zones of which thirty-eight look set to meet environmental targets for 2020. The remainder could fall short thanks, in part, to an excess of nitrogen oxide that is produced when diesel is consumed. No thanks to Volkswagen of course. The Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs estimates that this pollutant contributes towards tens of thousands of deaths per-annum. Cities in struggling zones include: London, Birmingham, Leeds, Nottingham, Derby and Southampton.
The Department has published its “draft plans” to improve air quality. It argues that: “A cleaner, healthier environment benefits people and the economy.” Also: “Clean air is vital for people’s health and the environment, essential for making sure our cities are welcoming places for people to live and work now and in the future, and to our prosperity.” The Department's ambition is to: “Make the UK a country with some of the very best air quality in the world.”
The Department claims that the zones which could miss their air quality targets should: “Consider the role of access restrictions for certain types of vehicle appropriate to achieve the outcomes”. It proposes that: “Decisions on such restrictions are locally led but taken forward on the basis of a national framework for new clean air zones”; and that local authorities are: “Best placed to identify if a combination of other measures will deliver the required reductions.” If the UK fails to meet air quality targets, it could be fined hundreds of millions of pounds by the European Union.
Clean Air “Vital” To Health And Environment
Elizabeth Truss, the Environment Secretary said: “Clean air is vital to our health and our environment and for making sure our cities are attractive places for people to live and work. Tackling air pollution is a priority for this government, and we want local authorities and members of the public to come forward and share ideas on action to be taken at local level to make our nation cleaner.”
London Air Quality Targets
London faces a tougher task than some of its counterparts to meet air quality targets. The Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs says: “The Greater London zone currently has the: “Highest excess of nitrogen oxide in the United Kingdom”. Furthermore, the: “Size and complexity of the capital’s transport networks means the task of reducing emissions is “the most challenging in the county”.