Give vouchers to convert cars to LPG for clean air, says report
The public should be given vouchers to pay for old, high emission cars to be converted into less polluting LPG vehicles, a new report has claimed.
The study, by independent think tank ResPublica, says such a conversion scheme should be launched as part of government plans to launch Clean Air Zones in the UK.
In Air Necessities: Place-based solutions to a pollution crisis, ResPublica finds that plans to create less polluted cities need to go further if targets to reduce increasing levels of harmful pollutants are to be met.
Report author Tom Follett said: “We need to make sure Clean Air Zones work well if high levels of pollution are going to be tackled. This means reducing the number of polluting vehicles as well as encouraging a more sustainable approach to transport across the country.
“As well as helping car and taxi drivers we must also make sure that, while we concentrate on reducing pollution from buses, the use of public transport is encouraged. HGVs also have a vital role in our economy and therefore, while their emissions should be constrained – we need to work with hauliers to make sure Britain can keep working.
“Councils will be vital in supporting the infrastructure and fuelling sites for low-emission freight, both through the planning system and through offering business rate exemptions.”
Clean Air Zones are to be established in Birmingham, Derby, Leeds, Nottingham and Southampton with charges, at a rate decided on by councils, for the most polluting vehicles to enter.
ResPublica says more zones should be implemented and all revenue raised should go back into improving air quality. Pollution Reduction Vouchers would allow less well-off members of the public to access garage mechanics to convert their car engines to gas power.
As well as the money raised from charges, this could be funded with a £10 increase in the cost of vehicle registration.
Money raised could also be used to help low-income households to access vouchers to buy bicycles or use public transport. At the same time councils – which have the power to decide on whether to charge cars or not – should offer taxi drivers zero-interest loans to convert their vehicles to LPG.
Director of ResPublica, Phillip Blond, said: ““The government should be applauded for their efforts to reduce the toxic emissions which continue to pollute the air of Britain’s cities and damage people’s health.
“We must be careful, however, that any levies on drivers entering urban areas are not simply a congestion charge but are used instead to dramatically improve air quality.
“One key point must be that if we make the polluters pay, we should also use that money to help the owners of polluting cars and vehicles to offset refit costs in order to clean up their emissions.”
Dr Alan Whitehead, MP for Southampton Test and Shadow Minister for Energy and Climate Change, said: “I welcome many of the recommendations made in this report by ResPublica. The implementation of Clean Air Zones provides an opportunity to really tackle the issue of poor air quality if done right. These zones should be implemented alongside a strong public awareness campaign and real opportunities for drivers to transition away from polluting vehicles and towards low emission vehicles as ResPublica rightly outline.”
Lilian Greenwood, MP for Nottingham South and former Shadow Secretary of State for Transport, said: “I am pleased to see this report, which outlines the ambitious measures needed if we are to clean up our air and improve people’s health.
“It’s clear that air pollution isn’t limited to four or five cities, and I hope the government will commit to working with all cities who want to achieve clean, world-class transport networks. Nottingham is leading the way on this and now Ministers must give the council the powers it needs to go even further.”