WESTMINSTER DIARIES: Diesel ban should only be in areas with worst pollution - The Solihull Observer

WESTMINSTER DIARIES: Diesel ban should only be in areas with worst pollution

Solihull Editorial 1st Sep, 2018   0

The subject of air pollution has been very topical recently and after much debate the UK will be subject to a ban on diesel cars from 2040.

The background to this decision is the European Air Quality Directive which a previous Government signed the UK up to many years ago believing that by now most of us would be driving electric cars. But this has not happened, partly because of the constraints of battery technology. This means that the UK, like many other EU countries, has been fined by environmental agencies because we have been unable to comply with the targets set by previous Governments. We are not alone in this, other EU members states have also faced tough penalties and have not been able to make the transition to electric vehicles as speedily as expected.

Some smaller member states have nonetheless been able to compensate for this by taking active steps to reduce pollution in other areas, such as by creating low and ultra-low emissions zones in cities. These ban the most polluting vehicles from the most polluted areas. Here in the West Midlands, Birmingham is the first of our cities to consider creating an ultra-low emission zone but concerns have been raised about how this will work in practice, including from one of the cities Labour MPs who called out the city’s Labour run Council on the plans.

Whilst there is a clear need to tackle this problem, this must be done based on scientific evidence of where the worst pollution is and shouldn’t be a blanket ban on all diesel vehicles entering the city. As it is modern Diesel engines are 90 % less polluting than the previous generation of engines and this fact should be considered carefully. Further, we need to consider whether the proposals would have unintended consequences for the local economy.

There is no doubt that we have to do all we can to improve air quality and Unicef UK are currently running a campaign to help school children understand the importance of speaking out for the right to clean air and a safe environment. I’d encourage you to read more about Unicef UK’s OutRight Campaign 2018 at the following website: https://www.unicef.org.uk/rights-respecting-schools/outright/

Dame Caroline Spelman


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