The UK Government has announced that 'conventional petrol and diesel cars' will no longer be available for sale by 2040, paving the way for Hybrid and Electric vehicles in the future. The Government also reaffirmed their intention for 'almost' every car and van to be zero emission by 2050.
The Government have also made £255m available to local councils to target poor air quality areas, citing that as Nitrogen Dioxide is localised to problem roads and not entire towns or city centres, it requires 'local action' and knowledge 'to achieve improvements in the air quality.'
Local authorities are being encouraged to use the funds for a range of 'innovative' measures, including easing congestion and pinch points by altering road networks, retrofitting the dirtiest vehicles and encouraging the use of public transport. Councils can also apply for additional funding via a Clean Air Fund to go further.
With the impending introduction of the London T-Charge in October 2017 and the 2019 Ultra-Low Emission Zone being consulted on currently, the Government state that charging zones should only be used if these measure provide insufficient and only then be in place until 'legal compliance is achieved and there is no risk of legal limits being breached again'.
This announcement was made as part of the Government's UK plan for tackling roadside nitrogen dioxide, which sets out £2.7 billion worth of funding for improving air quality and cleaner transport, with initiatives including:
- £1 billion for Ultra Low Emission Vehicles, of which £100m has been allocated for investing in the UK's charging network
- £290m for the National Productivity Investment Fund, of which £60m will be invested in new, cleaner buses, £40m for bus retrofits, £50m for Plug In Taxis and £80m for ULEV charging infrastructure
- £11m for Air Quality Grants, to help local authorities improve air quality.
- £100m for the National Road Network, an air quality fund available for Highways England to help improve air quality on its network.
As part of the Queen's Speech on the 21st June, a new Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill sets out requirements for every motorway service area and large fuel retailers to install charge points at their locations. According to the AA, this will require significant investment and will place huge demand on the National Grid as motorists charge their vehicles after rush hour.
This announcement follows several legal challenges against the Government for failing to publish a comprehensive clean air plan. Critics of the plan state that the measures don't go far enough, quickly enough. The plan did not include details on a vehicle scrappage scheme as ministers did not want to be seen punishing diesel drivers after being encouraged to buy those vehicles by previous Government.
Previous analysis by Pendragon Fleet Management previously highlighted how in the short-term, without greater investment and development of batteries and the charging network, diesel remains the only realistic options for fleet, with a hybrid fleet costing as much as £250,000 more over 3 years in comparison.
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