TWO hard-hitting air quality reports published this week have taken a strongly anti-diesel stance.
One of the reports, from the Ministry of the Environment, also discusses new emissions targets which could force local authorities to introduce congestion charging or workplace parking charges.
Environment minister Michael Meacher published a consultation document on Monday setting out proposals to halve long-term particle pollution by 2010.
The move seems to cement the Government's negative attitude to diesel, as so-called PM10s (blamed for respiratory diseases) are attributed to diesel vehicles, which will be penalised with a 3% supplement under next year's company cartax.
The document, called Air Quality Strategy for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, also sets specific targets for London. Meacher said: 'The latest advice from health experts shows that particle air pollution is still having a significant impact on health.'
On the same day, London mayor Ken Livingstone put fleets in the front line of his campaign to clean up air quality in the capital.
The Greater London Authority's 'Draft Air Quality Strategy' states: 'The Mayor is looking to London businesses, particularly those which operate fleets of vehicles, to help reduce emissions, recognising that this may also help businesses reduce fuel costs.'
Livingstone proposes that firms actively working on cutting emissions through areas like maintenance, driving standards, alternative fuels and efficient vehicle use will be awarded a Mayoral Environmental Business Marque.
The GLA is also committed to promoting alternative fuels, alongside other technologies that improve emissions. Electric and gas-powered vehicles will be exempt from congestion charging in central London, the document proposes, but there is still ambiguity about whether this will also include dual-fuel vehicles.
Low emission zones which ban polluting vehicles will focus on lorries, buses and coaches, but the document also says only private car users will be exempt, leaving a question mark over plans for company car drivers.
- Comments on The Air Quality Strategy for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland should be received by December 12. Go to the website here.