The greatest producers in the UK of particulates are motor vehicles, which account for up to 75% of harmful emissions in cities. Another cause for the failure in meeting the pollution target is traffic fumes blown by the wind to the UK from mainland Europe. Prescott announced a tightening of limits for lead, benzene, 1,3-butadiene and carbon monoxide. Objectives for ozone, nitrogen oxide and sulphur dioxide were unchanged.
In the light of the admission the AA and RAC said it was time the Government stopped dressing up the fuel tax escalator as a green initiative because there was no evidence it had contributed anything to reducing pollution. Instead the Government should be concentrating on the real polluters - buses and trucks which typically run on diesel - and giving greater encouragement and funding to public transport initiatives and technological advances to make all vehicles cleaner. The AA is due to press home its views at a series of pre-Budget meetings with Chancellor Gordon Brown.