Proposed Clean Air Zones are not a perfect solution 04 May 2016

A report by the House of Commons’ Environment, Food and Rural Affairs into air quality and transport finds that the government’s existing plans for Clean Air Zones (CAZs) are too inflexible.

The report criticises CAZs as currently defined by DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), and suggests that they are not the best fit to counter local air pollution problems but that targeted schemes could be more effective.

“We are glad the committee noted FTA’s concerns on page 12 of its report that CAZs are a blunt tool,” comments FTA (Freight Transport Association) head of national and regional policy Christopher Snelling.

“Local air quality problems are just that – local – so they differ in geographical extent and sources of pollution, and they will differ in terms of best solutions,” he explains.

FTA supports the statement by the committee’s report that: ‘Cities may find it more effective to limit vehicle access at certain times of day or to target specific bus routes rather than adopt blanket access proposals’.

FTA has consistently rejected the instruction that the burden of CAZs must fall exclusively on commercial vehicles, buses and taxis. It counsels that cars should not be excluded and urges the government to recognise concerns – including from the Local Government Association – that CAZs be thought of as just one of the potential solutions.

“Other options, such as local traffic management, could be better suited in some cases,” insists Snelling.

“One policy action should not be artificially promoted over others as if it was some magical solution.”

FTA is also urging government to consider the massive changes wrought by introducing Euro 6 engines for heavy duty vehicles – compulsory on new trucks and buses since the beginning of 2014.

“Much of the report is rightly concerned with the issues over the Euro 6 light duty vehicle standard, but on-road testing by bodies such as TfL [Transport for London] has shown that these issues do not apply to [heavy duty] Euro 6,” insists Snelling.

“New trucks and buses are meeting their emissions requirements, with NOx levels 80% lower than with previous vehicles.”

Brian Tinham

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