After 50,000 deaths a year, UK panel for scrapping diesel vehicles

  • Prasun Sonwalkar, Hindustan Times, London
  • Updated: Apr 27, 2016 17:01 IST
A clean air mask is seen placed on the face of the Oliver Cromwell statue outside the Houses of Parliament by Greenpeace activists to protest against air pollution quality in London and cities across the UK on April 18. (AP)

Scrapping diesel vehicles more than 10 years old and introducing a congestion charge in cities across Britain are among key recommendations made by a British parliamentary committee concerned by 50,000 air pollution-related deaths a year.

In a new report on air quality, the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee of parliament wants the government to have new “Clean Air Zones” in dozens of towns and cities to cut the risk of cardiac, respiratory and other diseases caused by polluted air.

The congestion charge is currently applicable only in central London, where vehicles have to pay £ 11.50 a day for entering a zone marked “C”. It was introduced in 2003 to reduce congestion and raise funds for London’s transport system.

Neil Parish, chair of the committee, said: “Only five cities (Birmingham, Leeds, Nottingham, Derby and Southampton) will have new powers to charge polluting vehicles to enter new clean air zones.

“Councils in the dozens of other English cities currently exceeding EU pollution limits must also be given the option of using such powers if their communities support action. Communities must be given legal powers to set controls that meet their own circumstances – for example, some might want to charge polluting vehicles to access zones at certain times of day or to target specific bus routes.”

The committee urged the government to consider introducing a diesel scrappage scheme for older vehicles.

Parish said: “Government funding for new refuelling infrastructure and grants to help buy cleaner vehicles such as electric or hybrid cars is welcome. But more action is needed if we are to get older, more polluting diesel vehicles off the road quickly.”

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