Thousands more diesel cars on Norfolk roads despite health and environmental risks

Figures show that 193,784 new and existing diesel cars were registered in 2017 in Norfolk. Picture:

Figures show that 193,784 new and existing diesel cars were registered in 2017 in Norfolk. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2015

Hundreds of thousands of diesel vehicles are clogging up the region's roads despite calls for motorists to opt for more cleaner fuels.

Figures from the Department of Transport and DVLA show there were 193,784 registered diesel cars in Norfolk last year, which accounted for 41pc of all cars.

There were also 61,016 diesel vans, which increases the total number of diesel-powered vehicles by 5,162 compared to the previous year.

King's Lynn and West Norfolk had the highest number of diesel vehicles in the county, with 1,111 more cars being registered last year putting the total up to 37,204.

This is more than the number of diesel cars in Norwich and Great Yarmouth combined, both of which had the lowest number of motorists driving diesel cars in Norfolk, at 17,912 and 17,720 respectively.

Rob Archer, member of West Norfolk Green Party, believes people opt to drive diesel cars as alternative modes of transport, particularly buses, are not up to standard or are too expensive.

He added: 'King's Lynn, for example, is a low income area and so people have gone for diesel cars because they are cheaper to run.

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'In rural areas, a lot of people come from London to live a country life and having big 4x4 is a part of that thing, a social status. 'A lot of agricultural workers will have diesel vehicles partially for work.'

Mr Archer said local authorities need to do more to get people cycling and walking. 'The key thing is most journeys in towns are under two miles, and an awful lot of those journeys can be done on foot,' he added.

An increase in diesel cars was seen in other parts of the county, with 33,393 in South Norfolk, 35,241 in Breckland, 28,705 in Broadland and 23, 548 in North Norfolk.

The government has announced proposals to ban sales of new diesel cars from 2040, as well as exclusively petrol-powered vehicles.

Figures show around 40,000 premature deaths every year are linked to the country's poor air quality, but despite this there were 8,247 more vehicles registered in Norfolk last year, putting the total up to 595,907.

RAC spokesman Simon Williams said: 'The number of registered petrol cars reached a peak in 2004 and then began to fall as more people opted for diesel, to the point where we now have 12.3 million on Britain's roads.

'The tide has now begun to turn as motorists go back to petrol, or choose an alternatively fuelled vehicle, as a result of emissions from diesel vehicles being found to be harmful to health.'

Diesel cars accounted for 39pc of all cars in Suffolk in 2017, increasing the total number of diesel cars to 160,028.

There were 4,242 more diesel cars registered last year compared to 2016, with the total number of diesel vans increasing to 53,636.

In Suffolk Coastal, the total number of diesel cars increased by 663 to 30,045, and in Waveney the total increased by 562 to 21,417.

Fenland saw the biggest increase in diesel cars in the East of England in 2017, with 1,169 more cars being registered last year bringing the total up to 24,653.

Of the 68,501 cars on Fenland roads last year, 7,350 of them were diesel vans.

Diesel cars accounted for 43pc of all cars in East Cambridgeshire, bringing the total to 21,058 - an increase of 318. There were also 6.503 diesel vans on East Cambridgeshire roads in 2017.