Politics costing diesel drivers £35bn

FairFuelUK is concerned that a lack of factual accuracy in the diesel debate, manipulated by environmentalists and opportunist politicians, has cost consumers £35bn in vehicle depreciation and ignored significant other sources of urban NOx and particulate pollution.

Basing legislative decisions on the current levels of misinformation risks a negligible improvement in urban air quality.

The current diesel debate has focused on diesel passenger cars (responsible for 11% of NOx) yet ignored the many other emission sources in London as identified by the London Assembly Environment Committee.

These include gas central heating 16% of NOx; wood burning stoves 12% of PM10s; heavy goods vehicles 11% of NOx; buses eight per cent of NOx (16% in the centre of London); petrol cars seven per cent of NOx; brakes and tyres of all vehicles 30% of PM10s; diesel vans five per cent of NOx; rail eight per cent of NOx; diesel plant and machinery 14% of NOx; and ground-based aviation eight per cent of NOx.

These other sources of particulate and NOx pollution in London get scant mention in the media and the focus on diesel passenger cars has caused a fall in used values of £35bn. The seven million pre-08 diesel cars on UK roads (many of which are not fitted with diesel particulate filters) are usually owned by a low income demographic that has no other choice. In a FairFuelUK poll of 11,000 drivers 94% of respondents said they feel deceived by past government policy.

The current car MoT test has no accurate measurement for PM10s, 2.5s or Ultra Fine Particles and there’s little sanction against the many worn and badly maintained older diesel vehicles on UK roads that emit high visible levels of particulate matter. London has not mentioned any plans to clean existing particulate matter already lying on roads that is repeatedly ‘swirled’ by traffic movements.

London’s congested road network also escapes attention as a factor exacerbating pedestrian-level pollution. Particulate emission from idling engines is four times higher than from free-flowing traffic. Policy decisions such as having over 200 diesel buses an hour running on Oxford Street, the granting of 175,000 extra private hire licences and widespread road narrowing has created the worst levels of stationary vehicle congestion London has ever seen.

FairFuelUK believes the current obsession with NOx from diesel passenger cars ignores the many other high sources of particulate matter pollution – the main source of respiratory diseases. Concentrating on road consumers as a narrow band of polluters, and ignoring the many other sources, means we could make very little difference to the capital’s air quality. London’s dirty air is due in part to the unintended consequences of poor government and local transport policies. 75% of FairFuel respondents believe that the government has no solution to lowering emissions.

Quentin Willson, motoring journalist and lead spokesman for FairFuelUK, said, ‘If we’re really committed to improving urban air quality we need to apply evidence-based world-class science – and not blame everything on well-intentioned consumers who were told by government to switch to diesel.’

Howard Cox, founder of FairFuelUK, said, ‘Thirty seven million UK drivers want DEFRA to review solutions to lowering emissions that don’t involve ineffectual and malevolent knee-jerk tax hikes. There are proven effective methods to improving air quality which FairFuelUK has presented to them. Will they have the guts to produce a long term sustainable plan or will this new government succumb to inaccurate emotive headlines and fleece hard working motorists and small businesses instead?’