Air quality ruling sees diesel vehicles face city centre charges

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Charges are likely to be put into place for drivers of polluting diesel vehicles driving into major city centres after the UK Government accepted the High Court’s decision that existing policies to tackle air pollution were so poor as to be illegal.

The ruling stated that current measures don’t comply with European Union legislation to improve air quality and meet emissions limits. According to the High Court’s findings, the future vehicle emissions calculations from the government were “too optimistic”, reports Reuters.

There are already plans to implement an Ultra Low Emission Zone in London, which will charge drivers of vehicles not meeting certain emissions limits to drive in the centre of the city. The move is set to remove a large number of older diesel vehicles from roads in the centre of London – only Euro 6 diesel models will be exempt initially.

There are also plans for similar Clean Air Zones to be created in Birmingham, Leeds, Nottingham, Derby, and Southampton by 2020. These differ though in the respect that private car owners would not be charged, rather users of older buses, taxis, coaches and lorries will be discouraged from driving in the zones because of charges.

Following the decision, the Government has agreed to reassess predicted emissions levels, based on more accurate real-world driving tests. Mr Justice Garnham also stated that any delay on the grounds of costs would be unacceptable, with the health issues at risk far outweighing those of budgets.

The decision is likely to give a boost to sales of Ultra Low Emission Vehicles, as drivers switch from diesel models to plug-in vehicles in the knowledge that they won’t be subject to air pollution charges.