Currently reading: Court orders government to cut smog
The UK has until the end of the year to draft a plan to dramatically cut pollution
News
1 min read
10 May 2015

Britain’s Supreme Court has ordered the UK government to submit a new plan to the European Union that will outline action to dramatically reduce levels of the pollutant nitrogen dioxide. The plan has to be submitted by 31 December.

ClientEarth, an environmental law group, brought the case as part of a long-running legal battle. ClientEarth named 16 cities and wider metropolitan areas in the UK as being affected by the pollutant, including the urban West Midlands, Greater Manchester, Merseyside, the North East and West Yorkshire.

It’s highly likely that any plan will bear down heavily on diesel-powered road transport, especially older vehicles. Commercial vehicles will be in the firing line, along with buses and taxis.

Although the new government could introduce incentive schemes for scrapping older diesel vehicles, there is some concern that even many of the latest Euro 6-rated diesel engines are producing far more nitrogen dioxide emissions in ‘real-world’ traffic conditions than in official tests.

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spqr 11 May 2015

Blunt Instrument

While I think the comments from Vimeous and artill are quite sensible I suspect that the UK Government (regardless of its political make up) will do exactly what it did last time when CO2 was seen as the big issue - use a blunt instrument. The Brown Administration simply gave lower VED and other tax breaks to diesels because they had lower CO2 emissions than petrols. Result - too many diesels on the road causing particulate and NO2 pollution which is very dangerous to human health. Add to this the head long rush of manufacturers to sell diesels which have a larger profit margin and dealers mis-selling to customers who do not drive enough miles a year to benefit from a diesel and causing them potential DPF failure issues (also adding to pollution) and the result is the Supreme Court decision. This time around I expect we will see huge rises in duty on diesel fuel, increases in VED on diesels beyond the rates for petrols and punitive tax regulations for companies with diesels in their fleet. Result - a collapse in diesel used values (as happened to petrols), fewer diesels being bought and a new increase in CO2 and we will be back to where we started. As mentioned above in relation to London and the ULEZ the real issue is to provide a proper infrastructure for the use of electric vehicles and more useable petrol-electric hybrids and full electric cars to be developed. Interestingly BMW has announced a 330e hybrid as part of the face-lifted 3 Series range and no doubt we will see a 318e and 320e in due course as BMW chops the diesels from its range.
Vimeous 11 May 2015

Moaning but no solutions

Sniping and counter-sniping is mightily frustrating and counter-productive. Yes you can quote stats, reports and sudo-legislation but like it or not this will drive change. What would your solution(s) be? ... There is doubtless a huge amount of traffic data for any of the affected locations the court case pertains to. From this a suitable test route can be generated that would be lab-replicable and UK specific. The models will show traffic density throughout the test route and with a total max Nox/CO2/particulate (take yer pick) threshold a maximum for all emissions per vehicle can be assigned. Pretty much what you'd hope the existing testing would do and appears to fail at. Manufacturers submit vehicles for testing and following a suitable amnesty those that don't pass don't enter the affected zones nationwide. Go in, get fined and no optional taxes to skip/dodge it. Too harsh? ... The affected areas are heavily monitored already - run it like a car-park, if the Nox levels are at a set maximum no more vehicles into the affected area until the level drops - vehicles would have a pre-assigned emissions rating - zero-emissions? in-ya-go! ... What solutions can you propose?
artill 11 May 2015

It seems inevitable to me

It seems inevitable to me that there will be some tough treatment for older diesels. With the evidence now available there is really no excuse for the power that be not to restrict their use. The logical step for the private motorist is a combination of tougher MOT tests (maybe to ensure they are no worse than they were when new?) and a Diesel only scrappage scheme. I see no reason why private motorists should be punished for having bought the wrong car when they were encouraged by the government, but they should be helped out of them.....
A different question is what will they do about the discrepancy between official tests and real world figures for Euro 6 cars. It seems that they are still too dirty in the real world. Sadly the CO2 advantages of diesel will probably influence the authorities.

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