Ultra Low Emissions Zones and Congestion Charges
Sales of new Diesel vehicles have fallen 30% in last 7 months. The Trade organisation stated:
"Mike Hawes, the SMMT chief executive, said: “Declining business and consumer confidence is undoubtedly affecting demand in the new car market, but this is being compounded by confusion over government policy on diesel. Consumers need urgent reassurance that the latest, low-emission diesel cars on sale will not face any bans, charges or other restrictions, anywhere in the UK.”
Since the UK Government is again being taken to court for it's failure to tackle Traffic Pollution and that the only real tools available are Active Travel investment and/or Ultra Low Emissions Zones and Congestion charges (they need to act now and cannot depend upon road building as a possible solution), so how come Suffolk County Council (who the Department for Transport nicely passed the buck to in May) have not even mentioned ULEZ or Active Travel Investment as a Cross Street solution?
This is an excerpt from DEFRA
Optimising traffic management
47. Appropriate approaches to traffic management in Clean Air Zones can help reduce pollution both by helping to reduce traffic and/or smooth traffic flow, encourage more active travel and support alternative ways of travel. It can help improve the experience for those cycling and walking, improve journey times and encourage the use of public transport. Options may include:
• improving road layouts and junctions to improve traffic flow and create safer more convenient conditions for active travel.
• improved traffic signing strategies to highlight pollution levels and alternative routes.
• improving road layouts and junctions to optimise traffic flow, for example by considering removal of road humps.
• bus priority schemes to improve reliability and journey times, making buses more attractive as an alternative mode.
• public realm improvements to create town centre environments that are attractive to cyclists and walkers.
• optimising traffic signal operation to reduce unnecessary traffic queues, and the associated emissions.
• creating safe, continuous and convenient cycling and walking networks.
• developing connected vehicle and smart infrastructure strategies which improve traffic conditions and support sustainable urban mobility.
• using real-time information to better inform travellers of their choices and to manage demand for transport.
So Clean Air Zones (known as ULEZ or Ultra Low Emissions Zones) are a tried and tested solution to solve Air Quality issues.
They are though very controversial. Since the mid 2000's successive Governments suggested and incentivised drivers buying diesel vehicles because they have lower CO2 emissions. However since 2010 the Government has known that this was a double edged sword. While CO2 levels drop the amount of Air pollution increases.
Our cowardly politicians could not and still find it difficult to countenance admitting that drivers had been misinformed and effectively conned. That astonishingly governments after 2010 actively reduced VED on diesel vehicles when they should have done precisely the opposite, shows how they value votes over lives.
So it is up to NGO's like Client Earth to hold them to account.
Client Earth are taking the Government to court for the third time (they won the first two cases) over NO2 pollution for 3 reasons:
ClientEarth’s grounds for judicial review are:
- The latest plan backtracks on previous commitments to order 5 cities to introduce clean air zones by 2020;
- The plan does not require any action in 45 local authorities in England, despite them having illegal levels of air pollution.
- The plan does not require any action by Wales to bring down air pollution as quickly as possible.
Babergh District Council, outrageously are omitted from the list of Councils who are not required to act under the Plans announced in April, by May 2018. There is no justification for their omission.
One has to wonder if it's a political decision and whether our MP was party to the decision.
You can read more about Client Earths proposed actions here https://www.clientearth.org/clientearth-launches-new-air-pollution-legal-action/
Client Earth just gave evidence to the Defra Joint Inquiry into Air Quality and explained, at length, the reasons they are taking the Government to court. http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/environment-food-and-rural-affairs-committee/joint-inquiry-into-improving-air-quality/oral/74282.pdf
ULEZ are usually linked to a congestion charge. The Congestion charges are enforced by ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) Systems and the money raised by these is almost always used to provide alternatives to polluting vehicles such as Active Travel Projects and Public Transport.
Meanwhile in the November 2017 Budget the Government announced a £220m Clean Air fund intended to mitigate increased costs to individuals and businesses from any change to vehicles they have to undertake to meet ULEZ regulations. Note only for the 23 of 78 AQMAs recognised by the DEFRA report. If Client Earth win then all become candidates for ULEZ solutions and the Clean Air Fund.
Also note that current testing studies on vehicles suggests that it is not HGV's that are the main source of NO2 and certainly PM pollution. Larger diesel Cars, SUVs etc. when tested seem to be creating more NO2 than EURO 6 standard HGVs. The PM (Particulate Matter) result is no surprise as HGVs create sufficient heat to burn off PM pollution so emissions are quite low, but it does seem Modern HGVs are cleaner than modern Cars.
So a ULEZ may result in less cars on Cross Street and we know 60% are local trips, but may not reduce HGVs, HGVs will still create noise and Vibration issues so a better solution is still required.