Government will help towns and cities by providing £255m to implement their plans
The UK plans to halt sales of all new conventional petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040 as experts warn that roadside pollution and soaring levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pose the largest environmental risk to public health.
The Government’s new plans to tackle air pollution is focused on delivering NO2 compliance at the roadside in the shortest amount of time.
Next year, it said it will publish a comprehensive clean air strategy intended to tackle other sources of air pollution.
Research commissioned by Defra estimated that in 2012, poor air quality had a total cost of up to £2.7bn through its impact on productivity.
Due to the highly localised nature of the problem, local knowledge will be crucial in solving pollution problems in these hotspots. The government said it will require councils to produce local air quality plans which reduce nitrogen dioxide levels in the fastest possible time.
Local authorities will be able to bid for money from a new Clean Air Fund to support improvements which will reduce the need for restrictions on polluting vehicles. This could include changing road layouts, removing traffic lights and speed humps, or upgrading bus fleets.
“We are determined to deliver a green revolution in transport and reduce pollution in our towns and cities,” said Chris Grayling, secretary of state for transport.
“We are taking bold action and want nearly every car and van on UK roads to be zero emission by 2050 which is why we’ve committed to investing more than £600m in the development, manufacture and use of ultra-low emission vehicles by 2020.”
The Government is also pledging £100m towards new low emission buses and retrofitting older buses with cleaner engines as well as proposing van drivers to have the right to use heavier vehicles if they are electric or gas-powered, making it easier for businesses to opt for cleaner commercial vehicles.
James McKemey, head of customer operations at EV charging company Pod Point, congratulated the government on taking measures to address the reduction of carbon emissions.
“With the EV market showing real signs of growth, we are not just seeing the end of one chapter of our motoring history, but simultaneously witnessing the growth of a new one,” he said. “One that will reduce our long-term reliance on fossil fuels, put money back in the pocket of drivers and improve the air quality for generations to come.
"But 2040 is a long time away and the environmental concerns that EVs help to address are not on hold until then."
However, a separate report suggests that UK drivers might not be quite ready to make the wholesale switch from so-called ‘dirty’ vehicles with the majority of UK drivers still expecting to be using fossil fuel powered vehicles for the foreseeable future.
More than two third (68 per cent) said they plan to buy a petrol-fuelled vehicle for their next purchase, while one fifth (21 per cent) expect to purchase a diesel-powered model.
Aviva’s forthcoming Connected Car report also revealed that while there is an apparent appetite for vehicles powered by alternative means, industry figures suggest that the desire for hybrid and electric models may be an aspiration rather than an immediate reality for some.
Only one in 10 UK drivers plan to buy a hybrid model for their next vehicle, according to the study with just a further 2 per cent intending to purchase a fully electric vehicle as their next model.
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