As the government announces a ban on new diesel vehicle in the future, an influential campaign group states that UK Air Quality strategies have failed because they have not been evidence based.
“If there was any accident causing significant loss of life there would be an immediate Public Inquiry to establish what had caused it and what steps should be taken to prevent it ever happening again. There are an estimated 160 deaths in the UK from air pollution every day and the Governments new proposals will not change this,” said a representative for CAPPI, the group calling for the inquiry.
“Previously 25 MPs and Lords supported the Campaign for Air Pollution Public Inquiry which resulted in the Environmental Audit Committee making a formal recommendation for a Public Inquiry to the Government in 2014,” they added.
The EAC said in its recommendation: “In the past the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution would have helped to review air pollution and make recommendations for remedial action. The Sustainable Development Commission, similarly, might have been expected to address this important sustainability issue. Both no longer exist. In the absence now of an independent body responsible for air quality, the time has come for decisive action and we therefore support calls for an independent public inquiry to look at the required urgent action on air pollution(Paragraph 93)’’
The Government then rejected the formal recommendation for A Public Inquiry in 2015 claiming that effective action was being taken.
“More than two years later that claim is proven to be untrue. There are now renewed calls for an urgent Public Inquiry into the tens of thousands of deaths from Air Pollution,” CAPPI claim.
The Euro Emissions Standards have failed, they say, referring to the Government testing of 100,000 diesel vehicles in urban conditions in 2012, using a roadside test technology, which proved that the new “Euro 5” vehicles were more polluting than older vehicles.
“It therefore makes no sense to base any future policies on the same failed Euro Standards,” CAPPI said, outlining a number of solutions for public debate. “The simple common sense solutions have been sent for many years to Government Committees including the EFRA, DEFRA and the EAC and have been ignored.”
“Scrapping diesel vehicles will not reduce pollution significantly, as confirmed by the RAC Foundation report. The taxi age limit has Increased pollution . The new taxis are more polluting than the older taxis.”
“The most important principal to understand is the amount of pollution caused by congestion [as] Scientific Testing shows that more than 90% of pollution is caused when vehicles are stop starting. If you can halve the amount a vehicle is stop starting then air pollution of all vehicles can be reduced by 45% instantly,” they added.
The group claim this would be far more effective than smaller, incremental changes which take place over a long time suggested by other policies and outline a number of measures which could help reduce congestion pollution effectively over a shorter period:
· Cleaner Fuel (as per the evidence from Sweden)
· A Ban on Peak time deliveries, improved delivery infrastructure (reinstatement of Post Office underground rail for parcel delivery will take hundreds of vehicles off the road)
· Park and Ride schemes(possibly integrated with Crossrail, existing stations or with shuttles),
· Improved traffic management (red routes and road works)
· Improved cycle infrastructure. (enabling bikes on trains and secure workplace cycle storage) PRPOPERLY PLANNED Cycle Routes which do not restrict road traffic. (current bike lanes have INCREASED CONGESTION),
· Transponders fitted to buses so that they can avoid stopping at traffic lights,
· Changing pedestrian crossings so that they do not unnecessarily stop traffic
· Building pedestrian bridges and walkways to improve traffic flow.
Details of the group’s call for the inquiry can be found at www.cappi.org.uk.
Ref 1-Environmental Audit Committee Recommendation for a Public Inquiry page 40 paragraph 93 / page 50 recommendation 28
Ref 2-Report from the Environmental Research Group, Kings College 2013 proving Euro Standards have failed
Ref 3 Testing by Swedish Transport Authority showing significant reduction in emissions by using cleaner diesel
Ref 5-The Mayor of London’s written evidence to the EAC in 2011
11. NO2 levels have not fallen in recent years as modelling had predicted. This is a problem across major cities in the UK and across the EU. Emerging evidence, including a report by King’s College London, suggests that this may be due to the failure of recent Euro standards to deliver expected reductions of NO2  . A Euro 5 car, for example, emits around five times as much direct NO2 as a fifteen year old car.
Ref 6-The Mayor of London’s Air Quality Strategy 2010 – Improving the emissions from all vehicles through new technologies
3.6.14. Euro air quality standards play an important role in driving improved performance on emissions. They were developed to ensure that natural fleet replacement results in significant reductions in pollutant emissions. They are also used by policymakers to specify requirements within different policies and schemes. Their ongoing development is therefore vital, with a focus on ensuring they are as effective as possible in delivering the benefits in reduced emissions that they have been designed to achieve, particularly when combined with abatement technologies.
3.6.15. Research into the application of Euro standards has highlighted that the higher standards do not deliver the expected improvements in emissions of NOx, especially for diesel cars and LGVs. Over the past few years, the amount of NO2 emitted directly by these vehicles has increased and overall NOx emissions (which include NO2) have tended to stabilise (rather than reduce), whilst improvements have been seen in HGVs and buses, more so since the introduction of the Euro IV standards for these vehicle types.
3.6.17. The Mayor will encourage the Government and the European Commission to ensure that future Euro standards deliver improvements in emissions in order to improve air quality in London. The Mayor will all also seek to make the case for improvements to the testing and enforcement processes for Euro standards; for example, the vehicle approval processes and testing standards could better reflect the actual on-urban road emissions of vehicles, as opposed to those derived from the figures obtained in laboratory conditions or based on drive cycles that are not representative of urban driving conditions.
Ref 7 –City Diesel
City Diesel City diesel is petroleum based lower emission diesel developed in Sweden but now available in many European Countries including the UK. Exhaust emissions from vehicles fuelled with city diesel compare favourably with exhaust emissions from equivalent vehicles fuelled with conventional diesel. The main benefit of city diesel is that its combustion reduces particulate emissions by 34 – 84% depending on engine type, duty cycle, test basis and type of particulate measured. An additional benefit of city diesel is that it is a low sulphur fuel, which is necessary for the optimum running of oxidation catalytic converters
Ref 9-The RAC Foundation article confirms that banning diesel vehicles will not improve air pollution significantly
Ref 10-Low Emissions Zones have failed to reduce pollution