More action needed to combat vehicle pollution and improve air quality, says RAC Report on Motoring

Many motorists want more action taken to cut vehicle pollution.

Many motorists want more action taken to cut vehicle pollution. - Credit: PA

Most UK motorists think more aggressive action should be taken to combat air pollution, according to RAC research.

Most motorists believe stronger action should be taken to combat vehicle pollution, research has found.

The RAC Report on Motoring 2016 found that of the 1,714 UK drivers interviewed, 66% wanted more to be done to reduce pollution in areas with the poorest air quality.

In terms of what should be done, 55% believed that the dirtiest vehicles should be charged when they enter a particularly polluted area. Motorists were also supportive of vehicles being banned from entering the most polluted areas outright, with the same percentage backing this measure.

David Bizley, RAC chief engineer, said: 'Our research indicates motorists, who are sometimes seen as the enemy when it comes to air quality, actually want to see more done to improve poor air quality that is blighting some local areas – suggesting they want to be part of the solution themselves.


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'But we need a considered and consistent approach to tackling the problem.'

Another 57% were also keen to see diesel vehicles that failed to comply with Euro 6 emission standards hit with charges when entering town and city centres, where air quality is poorest. A large minority of 42% thought all diesel vehicles should be charged for entering these areas.

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The RAC is also concerned that government incentives to help encourage the uptake of low-emissions vehicles are disappearing.

Payouts from the plug-in grant scheme are getting smaller in some cases, and there is no guarantee of this being extended past March 2018.

Changes to vehicle excise duty bands that come into effect in April 2017 will largely wipe out benefits of switching to a low-emissions vehicle.

Mr Bizley said: 'Today's vehicles are the cleanest ever and even the latest diesels, which have come under the spotlight over the last 12 months, emit a tiny fraction of the nitrogen dioxide and particulates compared to previous generations of diesel vehicles. But we are concerned that some of the incentives to encourage motorists to make the switch from older, less efficient vehicles are fading away.

'The plug-in grant scheme, which has already encouraged the uptake of over 50,000 vehicles since 2011 is a welcome short-term solution but may come to an end in March 2018.

'Changes to vehicle excise duty from next spring will mean the annual tax benefit of opting for all but a zero-emissions vehicle are removed after the first year of ownership, as motorists will pay the same amount to tax an ultra-low emission city car as the largest and least-efficient sports utility vehicles.'

On November 2, the High Court ruled against the government over its plans for combating air pollution, meaning it must now come up with further strategies for dealing with the problem.

Mr Bizley said: 'There has never been a better time for the government to set out its long-term approach to incentivise the transition to lower-emission, cleaner vehicles. The establishment of Clean Air Zones, which rightly focus on some of the most polluting types of vehicles including buses, taxis and HGVs, can play a part in tackling poor air quality locally but on its own it is not enough.'

He stressed that local authorities and motorists must play their part to reduce air pollution by raising awareness and by avoiding known pollution hotspots.

What measures should the government take to tackle vehicle pollution? Email motoring@archant.co.uk

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