Support for action on vehicle pollution
06 April 2018
Author: Sean Keywood
A report on air quality by MPs has been welcomed by the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA).
The Joint Committee report on improving air quality contained a number of recommendations relating to vehicles emissions, including moving the government's proposed ban on the sale of new, solely petrol and diesel-powered cars forward from 2040.
The MPs say there is insufficient urgency in current polices to accelerate fleet renewal.
Among the report's recommendations is a call for a rethink on how car tax relates to emissions.
It states, "The Treasury must take greater account of the costs of air pollution when establishing taxation and spending policy.
"It must explore how existing policies to achieve CO2 reductions can be combined with air quality targets - particularly NO2 and particulate matter - to produce a single instrument that delivers on both.
"The Treasury could begin by examining the feasibility of incorporating harmful pollutant emissions into vehicle taxation."
The report also calls for vehicle excise duty rates to be revised, to better incentivise the take-up of low-emission vehicles and support the second-hand market.
Reacting to the report, BVRLA chief executive Gerry Keaney said, "We strongly welcome the Joint Committee's recognition that there needs to be a greater alignment between the tax regime and efforts to improve air quality. The tax system is crucial to incentivising the right
"We recently wrote to the chancellor urging him to accelerate the introduction of its 2% company car tax band for zero-emission vehicles.
"This tax band is currently scheduled to increase over the next two years to a high of 16% in 2019-20, before dropping to 2% the year after.
"This is putting the brakes on new EV registrations from company car drivers, many of whom are keen to make the jump to zero-emission motoring."
The report also calls for a national scrappage scheme to encourage the adoption of ultra-low-emission vehicles, but says this must not be brought in on its own.
The report states, "Any scrappage scheme must include provisions to support low-income drivers and small businesses. The government should focus on reducing vehicle use and encouraging public transport use where practical, rather than simply switching to alternative vehicle types.
"Therefore, any scrappage scheme must be accompanied by a suite of additional measures and not implemented in isolation."
In response to this measure, Keaney said, "We are pleased to see the Joint Committee highlighting our mobility credits proposal, which suggests using a targeted scrappage scheme that encourages local motorists to give up their polluting old diesel car in favour of a credit that can be used on public transport, bike share, car rental or car club journeys."
Keaney also welcomed a proposal in the report for more centralised support from the government's Joint Air Quality Unit for local authorities attempting to solve pollution problems. He added, "We have been engaging with members, businesses and local policymakers around the country to promote a more fleet-friendly approach to air quality.
"We are happy to see that this Joint Committee has responded so positively to our submission, which focused on the need to promote transport behaviour change, provide more support for electric vehicles and deliver a managed transition away from dirty diesel."
Among the report's other recommendations was for carmakers to contribute to a clean air fund.
Joint Committee member Neil Parish MP said, "We are calling on government to develop a properly resourced support scheme available to all councils struggling with air quality, and to require manufacturers of polluting vehicles to pay their fair share by contributing to an industry-financed clean air fund."
Reacting to the report, Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) chief executive Mike Hawes said, "The latest Defra report shows there have been improvements in air quality in the UK, but more needs to be done.
"Road transport is a major contributor which is why the UK automotive industry is investing billions in technology and other measures to help address the challenge.
"A Clean Air Fund worth £220 million has already been set up by government, funded by changes to vehicle taxation. In addition, vehicle manufacturers are funding scrappage schemes themselves to get the older vehicles off the road.
"Other sectors must also play their part in improving air quality. We should not divert investment away from the development of new, low-emission vehicles as the fastest improvement to air quality in our towns and cities will be through the uptake of the latest technology."