Chancellor urged to raise first year VED rate to tackle air pollution
Members of the Healthy Air Campaign have written to the Chancellor asking for a change in Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) in the upcoming budget so that the extra costs of diesel pollution are reflected in the price of a new diesel car.
Air pollution is toxic to human health, particularly young people and those suffering from lung problems. It costs the country £27.5bn a year, according to a government estimate. MPs have called it a public health emergency.
Dr Penny Woods, Chief Executive of the British Lung Foundation, said: “Changes to the first year vehicle excise duty rate (VED) are essential in the fight to combat toxic air. Air pollution is an invisible danger and a public health crisis. It contributes to 40,000 early deaths a year across the UK and hits hardest people with a lung condition, children and the elderly. Traffic emissions are the main culprit, particularly those from diesel. Ambitious and bold national action is now needed. This means incentives, such as a revision to VED that could persuade drivers to move to cleaner vehicles.”
The coalition also calls for money raised from the increased VED to go towards a scrappage scheme targeting low income drivers.
The letter says “This scheme should offer a vehicle exchange in return for help with the cost of a less polluting hybrid vehicle, a zero-emission vehicle such as electric or subsidised car club membership, free public transport season tickets or e- bike purchase loan”.
Vehicle Excise Duty has in previous years been used to encourage the purchase of diesel cars, which has grown from 6% in 1990 to 50% in 2014 .
The government has been taken to court twice in recent years over its failure to tackle illegal levels of air pollution and judges have demanded the government come up with a new plan for dealing with air pollution.
ClientEarth Chief Executive Officer James Thornton said: “The High Court has ordered the Government to take immediate action now to deal with illegal levels of pollution and prevent tens of thousands of additional early deaths in the UK. The Government needs to recognise that diesel is the primary cause of the problem, and to promote a shift to alternatives. It’s perverse that our tax system encourages people to buy dirty vehicles. In his first Budget, Philip Hammond needs to change this and do what his predecessor, George Osborne failed to do, and that is to help millions of motorists to move to cleaner forms of transport.”