Is the Government unfairly demonising diesel cars?

alibhai/ November 30, 2017/ Web News/ 0 comments

Is the Government unfairly demonising diesel?

Another attack on diesel cars was slipped into the Budget last week, with the threat to bump new vehicles up a first-year tax band.

This rise in showroom tax was trailed as only for those diesels that don’t meet the latest clean standards. But there’s one small problem – the test they have to pass isn’t in yet.

The diesel demon: Car makers claim that Britain's government is unfairly targeting new diesels

The diesel demon: Car makers claim that Britain’s government is unfairly targeting new diesels

That means that every new diesel car will get nudged up – with some seeing a £500 rise.

This has been taken by the motor industry as yet another sign of the Government demonising diesel and using illogical measures to attack the cars and owners it previously encouraged.

New diesels are clean, argue the car makers, our air quality problems are not just caused by cars, and people and the UK aren’t yet ready to go all electric.

Diesel sales are dropping like a stone as people fear for cars’ future value and the unintended consequence will be a rise in C02, as drivers shift to petrol not electric cars, they argue.

On the other side of the ring, stands the Government’s recent tax move and its attempt to shrug off the responsibility for doing something unpopular on air quality, by passing the buck to councils.

Some councils have gladly seized on that, but whether they are motivated by a desire to raise money, promote an anti-car ideology, or clean the air, depends on whose point of view you believe.

Somewhere in the middle of this almighty muddle lies the truth on diesel pollution.

The problem is that truth is difficult to find and instead we are bombarded with lobbying from groups with a particular interest – be it car makers who want to flog more vehicles or air quality campaigners.

It’s little wonder then that the general response from our readers on the diesel issue is deep cynicism and a lack of conviction that something needs to be done.

This situation will only get worse as more councils do an Islington: bringing in mis-guided moves such as the council’s raising of parking charges for all diesels regardless of how polluting they are or whether they are even electric hybrids.

The Government has tried to push air quality issues onto councils, leading to measures such as Islington's extra parking charges

The Government has tried to push air quality issues onto councils, leading to measures such as Islington’s extra parking charges

A few years ago, Islington (my local council) added a £96 surcharge onto the existing cost of a parking permit for all diesel cars. 

This came on top of a parking permit charges system that is graded on C02 ranking, something which favours diesels and their generally lower carbon dioxide emissions.

And that was a system that had been introduced years earlier to nudge residents to buy those very same cars that were now being attacked.

The move was justified by Islington as being needed to do something about air quality, although it applies to hybrids too, and does nothing to tackle the pollution from the stream of cars owned by people who don’t live there driving through the borough daily on its main arteries. 

It is also regressive, as those on the lowest incomes are less likely to be able to buy a new car to dodge the £96 charge.

The council’s latest wheeze is to now add £2 per hour to pay and display parking charges for all diesels, regardless of how polluting they actually are. 

The Government’s long-awaited air quality plan this year promoted such a piece-meal approach from councils – a recipe if ever there was for things being bungled.

That’s not good enough. Instead, ministers need to raise their game, get some properly verified facts out there on diesel pollution and a proper strategy that gets the public onside.

Otherwise the suspicion that diesel is being unfairly demonised will just keep growing.


Courtesy: Daily Mail Online

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