As part of the governments clean air plan, all diesel and petrol cars and vans, including hybrid vehicles will be banned due to the impact that the poor air quality is having on peoples health.
A particular concern is the reduction of Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2). Although emissions have fallen, there are still 81 major roads which are due to breach the legal pollution limits. Air pollution is linked to around 40,000 premature deaths a year in the UK, and transport also makes up a significant share of greenhouse gas emissions
However, a complete ban may be seen as a last resort, with local councils first being given the change to lower emissions with ideas such as a new targeted scrappage scheme, and reprogramming of traffic lights, as well as the possible introduction of a toxic T Charge which will be levied on up to 10,000 of the oldest most polluting vehicles every week day. The Government are also relying on councils to come up with their own initiatives to improve air quality.
A change of infrastructure will also be needed, with more funding for plug in card and a plug in grant scheme. Retrofitting buses and other public transport to bring them in line with EU thresholds – something which councils have urgently been doing – breaches EU rules. There could also be the option of retrofitting cars with devices to limit their emissions.
The ban, if it does come into effect, will only be on new vehicles, so cars and vans purchased before this point will still be able to be used. The UK can expect the introduction of more and more hybrids to cope with the change in demand. There will almost certainly be a surge in electric and hydrogen powered cars.
This isn’t something to be concerned about in the short to medium term. Despite the headlines, there hasn’t actually been that much detail in the report, and many of the changes won’t be announced until later in the year.