Focus on gas HGVs to improve air quality, warns former minister

Former minister, now CEO of the EUA (Energy and Utilities Alliance), Mike Foster has today (27 February 2017) urged the government to focus on large commercial vehicles in its drive to improve air quality.

Foster cites the recent think tank Respublica’s report: ‘Air Necessities: place-based approaches to a pollution crisis’ as further evidence of the polluting impact of road vehicles, especially HGVs and buses.

“The Respublica report paints a clean picture of the costs incurred by poor air quality, contributing to the unacceptable 40,000 air pollution–related early deaths,” states Foster.

“Something needs to be done now… Despite noises from the government about people choosing their next car with air pollution in mind, they would be better off focussing on the big stuff, namely HGVs and buses,” he continues.

“The report makes it clear that together just 6% of vehicle miles driven by HGVs and buses are responsible for 48% of nitrogen oxides. Whereas with smaller vehicles, 94% of vehicle miles account for only 52% of roadside pollution.”

Foster says that factoring in the fact that HGVs and buses account for less than 2% of vehicles in the UK, the polluting impact of large vehicles is disproportionately extremely high – and hence his plea for a change to government thinking.

“In addition, the government also have recent independent evidence that they commissioned, which shows switching from diesel to gas for these large vehicles brings about huge air quality improvements,” insists Foster.

“The Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership suggests that, compared to a diesel Euro 6 engine, a gas equivalent reduces NOx by 41% and NO2 emissions by 74%.

“If the government are serious about improving air quality, the single biggest thing they could do is to encourage the switch from diesel to gas HGVs and buses.

“People are literally dying for this to happen.”

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