Environment secretary John Gummer said pollution from fleets would instead be reduced by improved fuel and vehicle technology; tighter controls on the existing vehicle fleet and its management; a campaign to improve the environmental responsibilities of fleet operators and changes in transport policies to reduce the need to use cars.
'We tax vehicles very heavily already,' said Gummer at the launch of the programme, called the National Air Quality Strategy. 'Instead, we are looking for commitment from businesses running fleets. The pattern and costs of travel are not fixed in stone, and local authorities and businesses must work in partnership to ensure that transport is as efficient as possible.'
Despite the positive indications on taxation, the overall strategy was criticised by many industry commentators. Roger King, director of communications at the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said: 'A technical fix for this problem is already in place - and that fix is the huge improvement in vehicle efficiency and emissions achieved by the manufacturers. I would also say that the company car sector is fairly efficient already, so to suggest that fleet managers can make further big savings is missing the point.'