Improving air quality – Defra/DfT consultation response23 Jun 2017

Grand challenge could help improve our air

Ministers should consider launching a ‘grand challenge’ competition to encourage innovators to come up with technical solutions on how the dirtiest diesel cars and vans could be cleaned up.

While there are good retrofit schemes currently available for heavy vehicles such as buses, there is not a similar system for lighter vehicles.

This is one of the suggestions made in the RAC Foundation’s response to the joint Defra/DfT consultation – Improving air quality: national plan for tackling nitrogen dioxide in our towns and cities.

The response also calls for clarity and simplification when it comes to designing and implementing clean air strategies, to reduce the bewildering array of terms and schemes:

“We are also concerned about the proliferation of different zone types – classes A, B, C and D for charging CAZs, non-charging CAZs, the proposed Scottish LEZs, the London LEZ and the ULEZ, as well as several other LEZs currently in operation.”

The Foundation remains sceptical about the use of either a general or targeted scrappage scheme to try and reduce air pollution, but if a targeted scheme were to be introduced, then:

“The easiest vehicles to to target for scrappage within these areas [of high exposure] will be those vehicles owned or licensed directly by the local authority – including buses and taxis.

“Vans will be more difficult to target, but through the use of ANPR those regularly entering and doing high mileages within the zone can be identified and owners can be contacted to offer a scrappage option.”

The Foundation does not believe “that diesel is, in all respects and in all places, an inappropriate choice.”