The end of February saw a landmark announcement from German law courts. In a significant ruling, older diesel cars will now be banned from some German city centres. The move is aimed at reducing pollution levels to hit EU targets, which are a leading cause of toxic fumes and associated deaths from respiratory diseases.
However, the legal course of banning just older diesel cars is unlikely to happen in UK cities. The Government and councils are taking a “clear air approach” by looking across a range of types of solutions, such as charges and fines. Oxford City Council is the only city to take the German line and consider banning all polluting vehicles by a set date.
Focused German ban
The German solution to the problem of poor city air quality saw the cities of Stuttgart, Leipzig and Dusseldorf legally ban older, more polluting diesel cars from the areas of the cities most affected by pollution. The ruling creates a precedent for other cities across Germany to consider taking similar moves – despite the government saying they are against the move.
The case was brought by environmental group DUH after 70 cities across Germany were found to have exceeded the limits set by the EU for nitrogen oxides (NOx). Diesel emissions contain nitrogen oxides, and these particles relate to causing respiratory disease.
UK “clean air” position
Here in the UK, there is little momentum to follow the move, although there are the same legal obligations and targets from the EU to reduce pollution levels here as in Germany. The UK government is set on a different path including creating clean air zones where polluting older diesel cars will be charged to enter or park rather than banned outright
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has created the idea of clean air zones as the quickest way to bring down pollution levels. Currently, Oxford is the only local authority considering a German-style blanket ban.
The Oxford idea
The city council are currently looking at banning all non-zero emissions cars from the city centre. Under the plan, all taxis, buses and light commercial vehicles, as well as cars, could be banned from certain areas if they pollute in any way. This would be put into force by 2020 and would extend to cover the whole city centre by 2035.
Councillor John Tanner, Oxford City Council Executive Board Member for A Clean and Green Oxford, said: “Toxic and illegal air pollution in the city centre is damaging the health of Oxford’s residents. A step change is urgently needed; the Zero Emission Zone is that step change.
“All of us who drive or use petrol or diesel vehicles through Oxford are contributing to the city’s toxic air. Everyone needs to do their bit – from national Government and local authorities to businesses and residents – to end this public health emergency.
“The County and City together are proposing a staged Zero Emission Zone from 2020 in the city centre, with additional measures to bring down chronic pollution in St Clement’s Street, High Street and St Aldate’s. Everyone who uses Oxford centre has the right to breathe clean air.”
Other ways to deal with the problem
Italy’s capital Rome is another city that plans to ban diesel cars by 2024 from the city centre. Rome is one of the most congested cities in Europe and with its many ancient monuments, pollution is a risk to people and also to its heritage.
Other cities including Paris, Madrid, Athens and Mexico City are looking at the possibility of a diesel ban by 2025. The Mayor of Copenhagen in Denmark is taking a bolder move – he wants to ban diesel cars by as early as next year from the city centre.
The future looks bleak for diesel but also petrol cars. The government has already announced a ban on both by 2040 for new vehicles and many local authorities are planning measures much before this. London’s Congestion Charge and T-Charge zones are examples of schemes already in place.
With pressure from the courts to do something about air quality, there is growing pressure on the government to do something. Moreover, with diesel sale numbers falling rapidly, the future does not look bright for diesel. It may soon be vanishing from our streets altogether although blanket city bans do not look to be on the horizon here in the UK – just yet.
What do you think about German moves to outright ban older diesel vehicles instead of a toxicity charge to enter or park? What do you think about Oxford’s plans? Are they the right approach or do you think its impractical? Let us know in the comments below.
Great idea. Ban old diesels as in Germany. What about the diesel trains and buses why shouldn’t they be considered also?
Why are diesel cars continuing to be demonised when 90% of the air pollution has been proved to come from commercial vehicles and buses (for which there is no viable alternative to diesel power). Could it be something to do the fact that if the same rules where applied equally, there would be no goods in the shops and public transport would grind to a halt ?
Agreed. Not only that but why is it that only 2 or 3 years ago we were being encouraged to go diesel because of higher mpg and less polution per mile ??
Yeah, crazy eh? I thought that Diesels were better on emissions and the fuel was a good alrounder for everything run on it. Seeing most of its made of Rapeseed oil. It was all going very green for Diesel about 10 yrs ago. Especially with these Catalytic converters in exhaust systems, I think though, what we really should do is have every car over 5 yrs, have a new catalytic converter fitted, and that will keep the pollution down.
ALL diesel vehicles produce emissions and particulates that poison and kill us and our families. If someone said they had invented a machine that produced these emissions and they would spread this invisible gas in streets for people to inhale can you imagine the response! Don’t tell me the government encouraged drivers to purchase diesel vehicles and blame on them, people believed what suited them.
As far as diesel commercial vehicles are concerned, banning them during the day (The hours when traffic is at its heaviest) would go a long way towards reducing pollution. Hydrogen and electric busses are viable, but taxis are a problem, until battery life is extended, However some use of induction charging points under taxi ranks would help.
You stop buying we can stop driving. Please advise when you have so we can act accordingly
If you ban all lorry’s, vans etc who going make the delivery’s
It is true, ban all diesels… but I think the government is looking at banning the little motorist’s Diesel vehicles that are old. I think if they are going to do that, then it is good that everyone with an old diesel or gas guzzler and Petrol cars should be banned too.
And , Then they should bring down the price of the newer cars by loads like 80 percent aye, .But that wont happen either,. People who live in the citys rarely need a vehicle. And most out side the citys cant afford 20000 and 40000 pound vehicles,. Only the rich 2 or 3 percent,.
they haven’t thought of that,
We should be looking at retro fitting adblue to older cars.. It takes more pollution to build one than it does to run one… And it would be more work for the UK residents than importing new vehicles
Yep very good point – its something they are doing in Germany, tho I think mainly to commercial vehicles.
Not to mention the economic and environmental cost of disposing of all of the unwanted / scrap diesel cars and vans that these blanket bans will create.
It’s the easy target all the time – the private motorist. I wouldn’t mind if they were considering more viable options like Hydrogen power but it’s all gone quiet as the manufactirers rub theiir hands together thinking of the profit from eletric toy cars.
One word in your paragraph John M —- HYDROGEN
It is a more complicated issue if you take into account the pollution caused by building cars. I have calculated that I could drive my 2001 Skoda Fabia estate (56mpg over 115,000m; 4000m/yr) for 22 years before the pollution it causes exceeds that of purchasing a petrol replacement.
This is never taken into account! Good for you for doing it. Greenpeace estimate a car will use approximately the same amount of energy during its lifetime as it took to create it, so what’s the point of scrapping a car with little mileage? Vested interest or am I being cynical?!
When I was about to retire I bought a new small diesel van based MPV as the high seating position is great for my osteoarthritis and gout getting in and out, I can’t walk far so can only get out in my vehicle to shop, GP’s and hospital as in a rural area. I bought it to see my life out, just 7 years old and only done 4,733 miles, like new, ther is no way I would be prepared to get rid through any scrappage scheme, how many years can I run it before the polution it produces is more than that produced by scrapping it and building a new one. Electric cars have their own polution problems an such from building and srapping batteries that also destroy environments from mining for the materials to produce them.
Here here to you Sir!
My parents did the same thing. Picked a small vehicle to see out their time in. Smart both financially and environmentally. 6 years old and just shy of 18,000miles with one year left of the warranty (can you tell who built it?).
To replace something that’s far from past it would be criminal!
I find the idea good for an outright ban, rather than a charge to enter a city, because by charging you are still not cutting emissions. Although i think it would be hard to implement as there are not just cars to consider.
Would like to know how taking money to let cars in reduces the pollution. What do they spend it on?
I bet they don’t spend it on sorting out the pollution problems!
The charge is a deterrent to taking cars into cities. The money raised is a bonus.
Sorry, the money raised is the prime objective……..
Takes more pollution to make the replacement vehicle than to use until unserviceable. I’ve never known anyone die from respiratory problems unless they used to smoke. It’s all a bit ‘Emperors new clothes’.
COPD is a REAL lung disease that is serious and there plenty of sufferers out there, but the majority of them have been chain smokers in their lives and there are the unfortunates like Asthma sufferers, born with it. These two groups are the ones that DIE from pollution. But Asthma sufferers rarely smoke. Only if they’re stupid. However I do agree, it makes more pollution to replace a vehicle than to use one until it dies.
Oxford has always been a bycycle city anyway, because when you arrive, there are no places to park. Will Oxford buy electrical operated buses.?
What about delivery trucks to the shops.? As the Diesel engine is now the “ bad boy on the block “ it will be interesting to see what happens next with taxis, buses, delivery vehicles, trades people like plumbers, electricians, etc with vans. Will these vehicles be banned as well.?
Hi, this is quite good
How about million upon million of central heating systems that are burning oil? Does that cause pollution?
Is so true
When the charge to enter is £100 per day, it is effectively a total ban. And it’s twaddle anyway. Tyre dust is now more a health and environmental problem than exhaust fumes, and “zero emission” vehicles are just as bad for that.
German cities have had environmental controls on vehicles for years. Most already require Diesel Vehicles to be Euro 4 (or HGV equivalent) for diesel vehicles and Euro 2 for Perol. Vehicles are required to display a windscreen sticker, and failure to do so gets you a heavy Fine. Much more sensible way ahead – after all, air pollution is killing people, so its more appropriate to issue Fines rather than make ‘additional charges’.
Air pollution is not killing people. It is all fabricated statistics produced by those with a political agenda; and blindly believed by mugs
You are wrong. AIr pollution does kill. The earth isn’t flat. It’s a globe.
There are alternatives to diesel buses which is being rolled out to other commercial vehicles. All it takes is the will to do it:
In the end there is balance to be struck and the phasing out of older diesels in big congested cities is inevitable. The effect on the health and well being of young children and other vulnerable respiratory prone groups must be prioritized over the polluters. Careful management, incentives and of course cheaper/regular public transport like we see in civilized EU societies of Sweden, Norway, Finland,, Holland, Germany and France will help. The UK is too often stuck in the slow lane and its getting worst..
What’s clean air……..Air actually moves round the world it’s not static, it doesn’t stay in one place. Countries aren’t contained in sealed boxes!
Pollution stays in one place, You’re right Clean air moves, but there are some places in the UK that have clean air, Snowdonia for one, the lake District for another. But not everyone lives there, and its already over populated. I was in Toronto a few years ago in Canada, and they have a major issue with smog, it hangs between the buildings in the city, the city has some very high buildings too and you can see when you look out the window, below you is a cloud of bluey, grey gas. Its called Pollution smog. This is why most of the buildings in the centre of Toronto link together, so you can walk from one to another, without having to go outside. This might be the answer to some of the pollution problems in our cities too.
If pollution stays put how come we were invaded by pollution blowing over from EU countries to the UK.
My God, you Brexiters never miss a chance, do you!
Why are we even discussing what the Germans or the EU doing about this? In a years time we will no longer be subject to EU legislation. Whilst we need to reduce emissions in city centres this can be done more effectivley.The creation of Bus Lanes and cycle lanes has reduced the availibilty of road space for vehicles resulting in longer travel times and more pollution as we sit in our cars. For someone who does long journeys and the limited mileage of ‘non polluting’ cars I will have to buy another electric car to go to cities. Good for car producers but noy drivers pockets!!
IF you can fill up in enough places enroute? Otherwise, electric isn’t the future.
I have seen this coming for a very long time, demonise diesels, Check, get the public to think likewise, check, force them off the roads, check. Fortunately I don’t travel into a town or city to work, so retail parks and internet shopping continues for me, jobs a good’un. No charge zone, No beggars, No getting mugged, and no money in the pockets of the town shops, or councils coffers.
Sorry to disappoint you but your Internet shopping is delivered by diesel
I think that was his point! He won’t have to pay any charges because he just won’t drive into the town! By not driving into the town he avoids all the above mentioned! The town’s shops also forego completely, any slim chance of his £££ going towards their survival!
His main point, by banning diesels (& by that he means ppl like him), the council may cut pollution, but their town centre (shops, coffee chains and restaurants etc) will all go out of business faster than you can say ‘cut your nose of to spite your face!’ because ppl will shift to out of town retail parks and internet shopping! Pass the buck, no pollution in our town, check, out of “my town” who cares!
It’s a sad state of affairs. Personally, I think we should start with the shipping/cruise industry as that is unregulated. In one day, I would dread to know how much s#£t belches from one of their funnels, let alone all of them! Clean that up, then retrofit older commercial vehicles like buses, trucks and the black cab, and get the fuel chemists to work on finding a synthetic diesel alternative (there is one in the making based on glycerine).
Alternatively, let’s put hydrogen at the top of the fuel list, way above electric vehicles. Batteries are poison to produce, the only byproduct of hydrogen power is water!!
In summary, don’t blame the guy! Until we as a society stop consuming crap at the rate we do, we will only shift the blame (& polluter) elsewhere.
Amazon Prime 1 day delivery is amazing, tell me it isn’t. We as a society expect that kind of service, if we had never asked for it, it would never have seen the light of day as commercially, it’s not a cheap operation to fund but they do it as a means of controlling our spending habits. Convenience for almost anything in less than 24hrs? Yes please, guilty as charged!
As usual Britain wants to hit those who can afford it least, hardest. Those running older diesel cars are usually those with the lowest incomes, so they run diesel cars as they have better mpg, and they run older ones because they can’t afford to buy new. Diesel cars only contribute something like 10% of the pollution anyway. Until a suitable replacement for the diesel engine is produced, we will still have diesel engines in our trucks, buses, trains, cranes, plant, and other construction equipment. What about all the back-up diesel generators too?
I have a 2006 diesel. It is serviced according to the manufacturer’s schedule. I only do a small annual mileage, most of it longer journeys on motorways and country roads, where there is less of a problem and it is uneconomic and environmentally unsound to replace the vehicle (The environmental cost of producing a new (less polluting?) vehicle is vastly more than the cost of running a slightly polluting older vehicle).
I simply won’t visit any city that bans my vehicle, so they will lose my custom. I don’t like cities, and if I have to visit them, I use public transport iof possible.
Campaigners are not interested that cars have become cleaner. Hopefully soon arbitrary EU targets for air quality can be legally ignored with future targets set by us based on science, as opposed to the claims of environmental extremists.
Of course there wont be a blanket ban, how can anyone make any money out of that?
Last year’s announcement stated: “The Government confirmed today that it will end the sale of all new conventional petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040”
That could mean hybrid’s are okay, so still polluting, but less.
“We want nearly every car and van on UK roads to be zero emission by 2050 ” ‘Want’ is not legislate.
Local councils will, no doubt, see charges as a money spinner.
The writing is on the wall for IC engines, for sure, but what about the pollution involved in producing and recycling batteries. This is from a 2010 study: “From our quick review, the electric vehicles’ batteries do not seem to be as zero impact as we would like. Unlike the lead-acid batteries in traditional motor, both NiMH and lithium-ion batteries are classified as non-hazardous except in California, where all batteries need special treatment. Because of this policy, approximately 1.15 x 105 tonnes of nickel is released to the environment as of 2008. Although this is only about one third of the 3.4 x 105 tonnes of lead lost in the environment in the same year, it may still contribute to an environmental crisis if we convert all of the vehicles in the world to electric power.  Therefore, it is better to remain cautious about large scale implementation of electric vehicles until we have mastered reliable ways to recycle their batteries.”
Also, the electric power required to power an all-electric country will be massive. So we need more generating capacity and that will also pollute.
There is never a rounded argument in all of this. Diesel was the saviour; then it was not. Electric is the saviour………..
ok fine ,ban the diesel from entering the city , but give us a park and ride F O C. if not we should shop online more. thanks VW
It’s going down that way anyway, shops will close in cities because people buy online more. But vehicles that deliver are normally Diesels.
The towns and cities need to provide other forms of transport before they bring in bans and charges. People have to perform their trade within the city/town limits. Perhaps they expect tradesmen to carry their tools in a wheelbarrow!!
charging in pointless it doesnt make the air cleaner wheres the money going
The only thing that charging Diesel owners to enter towns and cities will do is reduce revenue to the shopkeeper… shoppers will visit out of town shopping centres or shop online. they are barking up the wrong tree on this one. Vehicle (car, Bus and Truck) emissions only account for 10-11% of the UK’s pollution. the other 90% is made up from Gas fired power stations and even down to the home central heating boiler. a most recent gas condensing boiler emits more CO2 per hour than a 40tonne diesel truck. this test was shown recently on a motoring magazine tests had been done in several european cities
Looking forward to electric fire engines, ambulances and refuse trucks ! As I’ve said before, more than 90% of every single item in the average household has made at least part of its journey there on a diesel engined vehicle. Get real !
this is the most ridiculous thing written, (well one of the most ridiculous) so ban a car/bus/truck no matter what from a given area, are they so simple minded or down right idiotic to think the air will suddenly become clean again, first gust of wind will bring with it the dirt/gas/particulates. when are we going to learn that ALL this is absolute BS and simply gives the authorities yet another reason to TAX us, it was all ways said that there are two things that they cannot tax us on Air/Water but they have been taxing us for water seems like forever but not for air thats now changing. There is never any mention on whats above our heads OH NO best not mention the particulate dropping from the tens of thousands of planes in the air for our leisure holiday trips, commercial and then there are the planes seeding our skies 24/7. next is the shipping industry and then there is the boating fraternity, l work as boat crew and you cannot imagine the crap that comes out of our exhaust.. You see sheeple we are just pawns and put on this earth to pay taxes, dont ask why but just keep paying
Let market forces apply. I will not be visiting cities or towns which ban my 2008 Audi A3tdi. Their loss, not mine. As others have said, petrol engines are much more polluting & we were encouraged for several years to buy diesel vehicles. Electrics just do not have the range or back-up charging facilities to be viable for anything else than pottering about town. How long before roads are clogged by electric vehicles stuck with flat batteries? And where is the electricity to charge them coming from? By all forecasts the UK will struggle to keep the lights on at present usage in future due to a lack of generating capacity.
Unless we get Government grants to have Solar panels on our roofs and charging points for our Vehicles. Modern Solar panels produce usable amounts of Electricity on most cloudy days now, and some forward thinking Employers have charging points for their Employees to use at work, and what’s the average City Traffic speed now, is it about 17MPH. But I agree Hydrogen is part of the way forward, and don’t forget it is actually safer than Petrol, and is stored in much better tanks!
How does charging diesel motorists to enter a city help to lower the pollution levels? Wil the city authorities have huge extraction fans set up to refine the atmosphere? I don’t think so. It appears another way the milk the poor old motorist
If you think diesels will be gone and you’ll be zooming up the road in your electric car you won’t
You’ll be stuck behind me in me horse and cart 2mph
LOL!! You’ll be fined for too much methane gas production… Can’t win!
Diesel trains create more pollution than cars yet nothing is said about them. Stand and watch them pull away from the platform at any station and see the huge clouds of black smoke left behind. also consider the pollution from poorly maintained central heating systems run on diesel fuel.
Is there no way to suck in the air and de-polute it before passing it out again?? The charges would pay for it? Trees seem capable of such actions.
Good point! Plant more trees in the city centres!!!
Ban the lorries so nothing in the city shops so everyone as to out of town shopping centres But they have to drive or catch a bus Sorry the buses would also be banned
The polluter pays – a very good idea.
What about people who are keeping their motorhomes and camping vans for their holidays? What about people to travel long distances across Europe for leisure and visiting new places? Don’t make me laugh if you will suggest to change their vehicles to electric or hybrid types. They simple not fit for the purpose!
Well Germany will lose out on their holiday trade for sure! lol
If we are to clear the pollution in cities, then we must ban all types of fumes that fill the air, that includes cigar and cigarette smoking too. If the government want to be extreme about the subject, the £100 a day to park will mean only the fat rich cats get to park in the city centres. This isn’t an incentive to keep other people out of city centres. The German idea does seem extreme, but they will clean up their country alot faster than the UK. But whilst on the subject, German trains stink in the underground, but their buses are not as bad as ours in the UK. So, if there is going to be a mass blanket ban, or even a ban on just Diesel vehicles, that means the cost of living goes up, because Petrol is more expensive to run vehicles on, Lorries will not be able to run on Diesel in cities. They will have to have warehouses outside, so the food and goods can be run into towns with electric cars.
Up goes the cost of living, because its not going to be free, and that part will be passed onto the consumer. The prices of the Tube and Train stations will almost triple in price of a ticket, because of a change in the way Trains run on Diesel, the Buses will have to be Electric and eventually if we had a never ending supply of nuclear power stations, everything could be run on Electric. The other way round to turn this on its head is.. You work from home. And its not impossible to do,unless you have to go out and look after someone e.g. nurse, Dr , Fireman.
The way it is going with the £100 fee to pay to get into cities though, will cause alot of people in cities outside of London and Edinburgh to be ghost towns. Those that cycle in will be able to work in their buildings, those that commute in, will have to work from home. This will have a knock on effect on everyone who drives a Diesel car, bus, train, taxi, Disabled Vehicle.
The £100 fee will also drive companies out of the cities and into the smaller towns and countryside.Its just about moving the goal posts with England, it is going to be a very difficult task for everyone concerned.
Where is everyone going to charge their electric cars when at home, not everyone has a drive or a garage. Imagine several million cars all plugged in at once, as well as the kettle going on. We will end up with power outages.
Only people with a property that has a driveway should be allowed an electric car and they should start taxing them as they are running on electricity at 5% VAT which was at this lower rate for home use. In the 60’s we introsuced smokeless zones but these are now being ignored by people fitting wood burners and multi fuel fires, I read these are producing more pollution than diesel cars and the particles can be worse, time they were removed from any smokeless zones. Reason UK is not banning cars from cities and charging instead is because they want our cash to pay other benefits rather than stopping polution.
Someone, please, explain it to me, why all car manufacturers are continuing to produce new and expensive diesel cars, if the governments in different countries are planning to ban them? Where is their logic?
At the moment they are, its all talk out there, its when the sh*t hits the fan and people stop buying the Diesels, then the cars will no longer be produced and the price of Diesels will be so cheap, you could put them on your shopping list and buy them in the supermarkets!
Our Discovery 4 has the ad blue system, exhaust emissions for N2 are 98% water, far cleaner than petrol cars! All new diesel cars are cleaner than petrol nowadays!
BUT more polluting than ALL cars together is the domestic heating boiler, & log burners are even more polluting. Get the priorities right.
“EU targets, which are a leading cause of toxic fumes and associated deaths from respiratory diseases.”
I have often thought that.
The claims of associated deaths are unsupportable with no scientific basis.
Check out the reality here at geologist Euan Mearns site:
It’s about money, (lawyers) and taxation, (city entry taxes):
“EPA has conducted human clinical studies of PM for the express purpose of attempting to validate its epidemiology. It does this by pumping PM, including diesel exhaust from a running truck, into the lungs of human subjects.
These human guinea pigs have included the elderly and the sick, who EPA says are the most vulnerable to PM. EPA has exposed these people to levels of PM up to 21 times greater than the maximum EPA allows in outdoor air and 75 times greater than measured in typical outdoor air. But no human test subject has ever died or even experienced a health effect traceable to PM.”
“public health emergency” my arse. These people are demented; they certainly should not be councillors. Who votes for such hysteria-driven clowns?
I agree that older vehicles with high emissions should be banned, but I would go further, any vehicle with high emissions should be scrapped as pollution can be found on most major roads going through populated areas.
Vintage vehicles should be allowed to do a small mileage per year under special license.
A similar system should be applied to agricultural vehicles etc.
Here’s a thought
Move all business out of the cities
Turn all those properties into homes
Knee-jerk stupidity by desperate vote-hunters …
Just another excuse to make money far easier just ban those cars, otherwise what the point if they are willing to pay the charge you are gonna get the poison.
if Germany goes ahead with this ban diesels will be worthless there . I am off to get a nice cheap e class Mercedes
In the midst of all this can anyone tell me why my little Peugeot 207…1.4 hdi costs only £30 a year to tax while friends Peugeot 207 1.4 petrol costs over four times as much !!!