Six cities in England are set to fall shy of EU air quality targets. £12.50 charge for diesels to enter “clean zones” may be introduced.
Air quality and vehicle emissions are hot on the lips of just about every motoring body out there. EU standards being imposed across the UK are forcing some major cities to take action as they lag behind in their clean air efforts.
The EU’s Air Quality Directive states that on average over the course of a year there should be no more than 40 micrograms – a millionth of a gram – of nitrogen dioxide per cubic metre of air. The EU target states that there should never be more than 200 micrograms of the gas per cubic metre of air even in the worst conditions.
EU member states such as the UK were expected to meet this target by 2015, but in 2011 the Department for the Environment published a report showing that the Midlands were so far behind, they would not reach the target until 2020. Now it has published a new report saying air quality in what it calls the West Midlands Urban Area won’t meet the target until “after 2030”.
The Midlands aren’t the only areas affected which means there could be a “clean zone” charge coming to a street near you.
Authorities in London have said that only the cleanest diesel cars entering the city’s Ultra Low Emission Zone in 2020 will not have to pay the new charge of £12.50. Of course this is also on top of the £11.50 congestion charge.
If these charges come into play, they will be set by the relevant city’s council although £12.50 seems to be the going rate. Hopefully, this will stick and nobody will be fleeced at a higher rate than London.
The news hasn’t exactly been met with open arms. Diesel drivers have gone from being coaxed into buying diesel vehicles to now suffering all sorts of charges and the government coaxing them into buying Petrol or Electric vehicles.
One person said “Nowadays, some petrol engines emit more pollution than diesels.” with another commenting “If they do that (introduce clean zone charge), I’ll just order everything online – it’s cheaper anyway. This would be a fantastic way to kill off trade in town centres.”
Commenting on the Derby Telegraph Facebook page, one person said “Improving public transport might help to reduce cars in the city. I live in Ashbourne and one bus every hour is not enough to get me to use it. I very often have to stand the whole way with 20 other people. I would happily come in on the bus if there was a better service.”
AA spokesman Paul Watters has made a statement saying the plan is “unworkable”. He said “We obviously need cleaner air but we need to address it in a much more mature way. Drivers are confused, they have been encouraged to have low CO2 cars which were diesels.”
What would you do?
It’s common to see motoring bodies making statements on new legislation and fines and it’s very easy to criticize decisions made by governments, especially when these decisions involve a cost to the public… so what would you do? How would you get the air in our major cities clean enough to meet EU targets? We would love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Leave a comment and let us know.