So says Gasrec in the wake of the High Court case brought by ClientEarth, which ruled that the government must rethink its strategy for achieving an air clean-up programme capable of meeting EU requirements.
According to the European Environment Agency, the UK has the second highest number of deaths in Europe caused by NO2 pollution, mostly caused by diesel vehicles.
Natural gas, argues Gasrec CEO Rob Wood, is widely available and vehicle manufacturers are set to launch the next generation of ultra-low emission, dedicated natural gas fuelled vehicles.
He says that the economic and environmental benefits of natural gas as a transport fuel for heavy vehicles is widely recognised now across Europe and around the world.
“While we applaud the government’s support for the development of electric cars and lighter vehicles, we are urging them to also place emphasis on tackling emissions from heavier vehicles, which carry a disproportionate responsibility for our country’s poor air quality,” insists Wood.
“The government should recognise the immediate benefits of switching the heavy vehicle fleet to natural gas,” he continues.
“The expansion of natural gas fuelled vehicles would improve air quality immediately, reduce the costs of transport to fleet operators and the cost of goods in the shops.”
Wood also suggests a series of measures to encourage faster uptake of green, natural gas trucks and buses.
Key to these are :
Adopt fuel taxation that reflects fuel impacts on the environment and human health
Require all public procurement to include conventional and ‘alternative’ fuelled options
Adjust the definition of ultra-low emission vehicles to embrace natural gas as a ‘transition fuel’ for heavier vehicles
Encourage the wider introduction of Clean Air Zones, including at British ports
Enact the already agreed EU Weights and Dimensions Directive immediately, following its recent government consultation
Introduce a derogation to allow Category B license holders to drive alternatively fuelled vehicles up to 4,250kg and exempt these vehicles from requiring an O license
Reduce congestion by incentivising night-time deliveries using quieter natural gas-fuelled vehicles