Transport campaigner Greener Journeys has warned that schemes to reduce the impact of air pollution on the environment and the nation’s health will only succeed if Ministers can coax the public from their cars.
This follows the release of an Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Select Committee report which investigated poor air quality in the UK, and looked into strategies for tackling the issue. The report called on the Government to act now to prevent the deaths of up to 50,000 people as a result of illnesses relating to air pollution.
The campaign group said that only wider use of local sustainable transport, such as buses, can deliver the reduction in emissions needed. The report expands on plans to instigate city centre ‘Clean Air Zones’ that will regulate the type of traffic allowed to drive in places such as Leeds, Birmingham, and Southampton.
These areas will intend to stop larger, more polluting vehicles such as older buses and coaches from driving in city centres – areas where NOx levels can reach hazardous levels. Greener Journeys, however, believes that the Government should focus on getting road users out of cars and into newer, ecologically-friendly Euro 6 buses.
Claire Haigh, Chief Executive of Greener Journeys, said: “Greener Journeys welcomes the recommendation to analyse the impact of vehicle emissions. Unlike the car engines which are solely tested in controlled laboratory conditions, the engines in the latest fleet of Euro 6 buses are required to be environmentally assessed while driving on the road following rigorous laboratory testing.
“Real world testing of bus engines shows that the latest Euro 6 buses emit 95% fewer NOx than the previous generation. In analysing the huge emissions reductions made by Euro 6 bus engines, I hope the government will recognise the clear benefit to be made by incentivising more bus travel.
“However, while the committee’s findings set out a number of ambitious recommendations for improving air quality, the report falls short of encouraging modal switch from the car to more sustainable modes of transport.
“If we are to achieve the reductions in emissions required to fend off a growing public health emergency, we need to develop policies that incentivise commuters to make more sustainable transport choices.”