Reacting to the publication today by Defra of a new draft air quality plan, RAC chief engineer David Bizley said:
“We welcome many of the proposals which have been included in the air quality strategy published today – namely encouraging local authorities to improve traffic flow, giving consideration to replacing speed humps with other means to safely slow vehicles down, a very clear focus on those most polluting vehicles such as buses and taxis, and encouraging the cutting of unnecessary engine idling.
“However, it is deeply worrying that local authorities have an option of introducing chargeable Clean Air Zones which would affect owners of relatively new diesel and some petrol vehicles. This potentially could impact millions of motorists and while the Government has said it wants to discourage authorities from going down this route, the strategy does not give a clear steer on how and when local authorities should implement which type of clean air zone.
“The RAC is clear on this - we believe that efforts should squarely be focused on tackling those oldest vehicles that do the highest number of miles in affected areas, and that charges to owners of all but the newest diesel cars should be an absolute last resort.
“There is also no guidance yet published on what charges to motorists might be – which will undoubtedly make many motorists anxious of what may be in store.
“The Government has ruled out a large scale scrappage scheme on value for money grounds, but has indicated it is still open to a more targeted scheme – a move which we cautiously welcome.
“Finally, we believe that improving driving styles can have a much bigger role to play in reducing emissions than is suggested in the consultation. Telematics technology is available today to help drivers change their driving style.”