London will not be eligible for new £220 million pollution fund
The Chancellor used the budget to announce that he is increasing taxes on new diesel cars to create a new £220 million Clean Air Fund. The Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) rate for new diesel cars will be increased by one band in the first year, and the diesel supplement in Company Car Tax will increase by one percent.
This means that the amount of VED paid in the first year by someone buying a new diesel car will increase by about £20. The changes to VED will not apply to next-generation diesel cars which are certified as meeting emissions limits in real world driving conditions.
Despite the fact that Londoners face these new taxes and breathe in some of the most toxic air in the country, with approximately 40 percent of the UK's road kilometres exceeding legal NO2 limits in 2013 according to a national assessment, officials from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) have confirmed that London will not be able to bid for the new £220 million fund.
The revelation is particularly embarrassing for the Minister for London, Greg Hands, who included the ‘Clean Air Fund’ in a list of reasons why the Budget is good for London in a tweet on Wednesday.
Air pollution is a public health crisis in London causing chronic illnesses, reduced lung function in small children, and contributing to thousands of premature deaths in London every year.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has set out the most ambitious plans to tackle air pollution of any city in world city from cleaning up thousands of polluted buses, delivering the world’s toughest new emission standard in Central London, the T-Charge, and confirming he will bring in the ULEZ 17 months earlier in April 2019.
However, the covernment has refused to play its part in cleaning up London’s toxic air.
As well as refusing to allocate extra resources to London, ministers have ignored the Mayor’s lobbying for the urgent diesel scrappage fund needed to rid the street of the dirtiest diesels vehicles.
Only half of London’s toxic emissions are caused by road transport pollution and the covernment has failed to give the Mayor and London boroughs the extra powers needed to tackle harmful non-road sources of emissions including construction and river pollution. ■