Northgate certainly isn’t ignoring the Air Quality Plan. This post explains the most significant policies.
No fleet can afford to ignore the Government’s new Air Quality Plan. This document, published at the end of July, set out ministers’ plans for dealing with air pollution on our roads. Those plans will mean a lot for the future of diesel vehicles – and, indeed, the make-up of the entire transport system – in this country.
Northgate Vehicle Hire certainly isn’t ignoring the Air Quality Plan. We’ve just published a White Paper on it, which you can download at the bottom of this post. It explains all of the most significant policies in the Plan, which can be summarised as follows:
- Diesel and petrol ban. The Government has promised to ‘end the sale of all new conventional petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040.’ This is an eye-catching announcement, but its actual impact may be less dramatic than the headlines suggest. With electric vehicles on the rise, many forecasters already expect all – or almost all – new cars to be alternatively-fuelled by 2040 anyway.
- Clean Air Zones. The Government his identified 29 areas with particularly bad air quality, and it wants their local councils to take action. The nature of that action will largely be up to the councils themselves, although the Government has listed a number of policies that could apply within new ‘Clean Air Zones’. These include support for ultra-low emission vehicles and perhaps even charges for older, more polluting ones.
- Real Driving Emissions tests. The 2015 Volkswagen emissions scandal highlighted the fact that many diesel vehicles emit far higher levels of pollution on the road than they do in laboratory tests. To counter this, the Government is signing up to the stricter testing regime that is being introduced by the European Union in September.
- Regulatory changes for vans. The Government is also proposing a number of changes to various regulations, aimed at encouraging drivers and fleets to choose electric vans. These include extending the category B driving licence to cover heavier vans, as long as they are powered by alternative fuels. As we reported in a recent blogpost, these plans are now up for consultation.
- Compensation schemes. The Air Quality Plan recognises the need to compensate motorists who will be adversely affected by all of these changes, but doesn’t specify how to do so. It promises to launch a separate consultation in the autumn on possible mitigation measures, and has said that these should be particularly focused on low-income motorists and those forced to switch to greener vehicles. Among these potential measures is a targeted scrappage scheme for diesel vehicles.
- The Air Quality Plan also hints that taxes on diesel vehicles may be increased in the future, but again stops short of offering specifics. It merely says that the Government ‘will continue to explore the appropriate tax treatment for diesel vehicles and will engage with stakeholders ahead of making any tax changes at Autumn Budget 2017.’
Our White Paper contains further detail about each of these measures – and much more besides. It also includes sections on pre-existing policies designed to incentivise cleaner motoring, and on the environmental, political and legal developments that led to the publication of the Air Quality Plan.
As we say in the paper, it’s too early to say whether all of these new measures will be implemented, but it can’t be doubted that big developments are afoot in the world of motoring. Here at Northgate, we’re eager to ease your path towards a greener future.
To download the guide, just fill in a few details below: