Further plans to clamp down on urban pollution

Exchequer Secretary Robert Jenrick has stressed that those living in UK towns and cities have a fundamental right to breathe clean air as he unveiled further plans to clamp down on pollution in urban areas.

Ministers are seeking views on reforms to vehicle excise duty, currently charged at a flat rate of £250 for all vans, having found that less than one in every two hundred vans (0.4%) bought in 2016/17 was an ultra-low emission model. Therefore, a consultation on vehicle excise duty for vans has been launched to incentivise drivers to go green and make it more affordable to buy greener models.

A separate call for evidence is looking at whether the reduced duty rate for red diesel is holding back the use of cleaner fuels by non-road vehicles and machinery in towns and cities, and follows Chancellor Philip Hammond’s recent Budget announcements, such as the £220 million Clean Air Fund.

Jenrick said: “We want to be the first government to leave the environment in a better state that we found it. One of the ways we can do this is by using the tax system to help drivers afford greener choices. We want to help ‘white van man’ go green. We appreciate that buying a new van is a major investment for small businessmen and women and want to help make environmentally friendly choices more affordable. Public health is at risk due to the use of red diesel in towns and cities. So we are looking at how we can level the playing field on red diesel and exploring how we can encourage users to ditch it.”

Michael Gove, Environment Secretary, added: “Air pollution remains a significant threat to public health and everyone must play their part tackling its causes. We will shortly build on our £3.5 billion plan to tackle roadside emissions, publishing a comprehensive Clean Air Strategy setting out a wide range of actions to reduce pollution from all sources.

“Businesses have a crucial role in this. That’s why we are setting out plans to make low emission vans more affordable and asking businesses how we can help them break down the barriers to the use of lower emission machinery.”