Air quality plan response26 Jul 2017

Tax on new diesels targets cleanest vehicles not dirtiest

Responding to the government’s latest plan for tackling roadside nitrogen dioxide concentrations, Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said:

“The fact that the Government’s strategy still puts local authorities in the driving seat for imposing restrictions means the nation’s almost-12 million diesel owners remain in the dark over where and when they will be able to use their cars and at what cost.

“While it would be good to see the Government putting some money on the table to sort out the air quality issue, a locally-led approach could create a confusing patchwork of rules for motorists.

“Reaffirming the 2040 target for all brand new cars to be zero emission at the tailpipe is unsurprising, but there’s still a lot to do to get the take-up of ultra-low emission cars onto the right trajectory given that currently there are only 100,000 of them on the road out of a car fleet of more than 30 million.

“Introducing a scrappage scheme sounds good but the continued absence of a firm plan shows just how difficult it is to draw up a meaningful, cost-effective model.”

Commenting specifically on proposals to levy higher taxes on new diesel vehicles, Mr Gooding said:

“Raising the tax on new diesel cars would be somewhat ironic because it is the vehicles in the showroom today which are the cleanest of the lot. Once again drivers are left not knowing which way to turn.

“With so much uncertainty swirling around, the decision over which car to buy – new or second hand – has never been harder, but large tax differentials between fuel types is likely to mean the diesel market is killed off much sooner than 2040.”



Philip Gomm – Head of External Communications – RAC Foundation

020 7747 3445 | 07711 776448 | [email protected] | 020 7389 0601 (ISDN)

Notes to editors:

The RAC Foundation is a transport policy and research organisation that explores the economic, mobility, safety and environmental issues relating to roads and their users. The Foundation publishes independent and authoritative research with which it promotes informed debate and advocates policy in the interest of the responsible motorist.

The RAC Foundation is a registered charity, number 1002705.

All the Foundation’s work is available on its website: