Not all the controversy produced by the British High Court last week was related to Brexit! There was also a ruling that could result in some trouble ahead for UK diesel drivers.
Following a case brought against the UK government by ClientEarth, an environmental legal group, the High Court ruled that the UK is doing nowhere near enough to meet air pollution targets. Nitrogen emissions from diesel vehicles were singled out as a particular problem, with ministers accused of relying on “optimistic” tests. A big takeaway from the ruling was that the government “must be tougher on diesel.”
It’s undeniable that many people who have chosen to drive diesels have a right to feel affronted by the government’s “about face” on such vehicles in recent years. Not that long ago, people were actively encouraged to move in a diesel direction – before scientific research resulted in the government changing tack.
New taxes for UK diesel drivers?
One idea being mentioned is the prospect of drivers of more polluting vehicles having to pay daily charges to drive into the centre of a number of UK cities. No doubt many diesel drivers would see this as very unfair, especially if they purchased their car while the use of diesels was being encouraged rather than discouraged.
In reaction to this, something else being proposed is the idea of a scrappage scheme for polluting vehicles, to give people an incentive to trade in for something “greener.”
However, it’s hard not to see the whole situation as a rather depressing comedy of errors. Early next year, new road tax changes will see the incentive to choose a low emission vehicle somewhat compromised, with only zero emission cars exempt from excise duty. On top of this, it was separately announced last week that company car taxes will soon increase, with some pundits theorising that the move will further reduce the benefit of selecting a vehicle that’s kinder to the environment.
The emissions muddle the country finds itself in is largely down to an approach to diesels that was wrong in the past. It’s therefore increasingly important that the current government gets all of these policies, incentives, and “discouragements,” aligned and coordinated this time around – something it’s fair to say we’re falling short of right now.
I understand ordinary diesel vehicles maybe polluting with nitrogen emissions but would that also include diesels with adblue which is supposed to cut down on such emissions.Even Germany has a high percentage of diesel vehicles with adblue additives.
I’m not that up on the technical aspects of this debate but surely the “sinners” must be TIR lorries especially those from countries where diesel and diesel engines are of a lower standard than in the UK. For those of us who own ordinary private vehicles which run on diesel as a result of previous governments’ encouragement we have every right to feel affronted at the prospect of higher taxes or even scrappage schemes. It is also a well-known fact that diesel engines last longer than petrol engines and are thus more economical.
another pathetic result of unelected – arrogant judges(along with the cloud cuckoo greens) who will this morning expect their Lady Grey tea,Harrods marmalade on wholemeal toast. orange juice all to be delivered by electric HGVS!!!!!!!!!while across the 22 mile channel people in France and Belgium are paying 1 Euro 14cents. a litre for diesel+why is it drivers in the UK always get the worst from our countries leaders.
I don’t like diesel cars but drivers of them should not be charged anything extra for driving them. The EU forced the car companies to work really hard and spend a fortune on trying to reach ever more difficult emission targets, so for a British judge to make anything of this is totally wrong, as usual the law is a total ass.Are British judges all 5hitheads?
What about all the business owners and self employed ‘one man bands’ that own diesel vehicles. A lot of those are already struggling with increased costs of materials etc. How many large vehicles are there that run on petrol or are ‘green ‘ . None that I can think of . The government should be careful not to penalise hard working and tax paying people
The presence of a target, eg the EU emissions targets, does not mean those targets are valid. There is no evidence for the claims of harm and the air in London is a mite cleaner than cities such as Bangkik or Beijing.
This is again the justice system being abused by very well-funded activist groups.
Funny that the Government doesn’t do anything to discourage people from flying – aircraft are hardly a green way to get around, especially short internal flights.
Haven’t heard much about raising tax on aviation fuel, how does it compare to the taxation rates of domestic heating oil or petrol/diesel for cars or even agricultural (red) diesel?
Not certain of this but a few years ago, I read that there was no tax on aviation fuel. This may have changed.
no tax on aviation fuel and very little on red diesel. some cars have sensors that will detect the red dye in diesel and prevent the vehicle from being used but most will run (and DO run, often on agricultural tax etc with limited mileage/operating range from the farm) perfectly fine on red (ive driven some and you cant tell the difference) so maybe its time to scrap rebated diesel as well as tax aviation fuel, as farm vehicles use roads, often in small towns, throwing out clouds of smoke too!
Drivers conned again and now its diesel drivers who are the bad boys. Not so long ago the “government” actively encoyraged diesel sales. But hold on a minute – lets forget sbout CARS for a moment – arent ALL HGVs and trucks and buses and trains (apart from electric of course) diesel as well??!! Are they going to tax them, ban them?
I read that 10% of diesels cause 50% of the pollution. Modern diesels aren’t the issue. If the congestion was reduced in cities and the traffic actually flowed then that would solve it.
I purchased a new VW Golf TDI in 2010 under the scrappage scheme, with the view that I was doing my bit for the environment. In October 2015 VW wrote saying that they would be recalling the vehicle because of the emissions problem and I’m still waiting. Apparently its going to be 2017 before the 1.6 models are being recalled. Having read the complaints from people who have already taken their vehicle back to VW its questionable whether it is wise to let VW tamper with the emissions system.
In view of the problems with emissions and the EGR valve I would welcome VW operating its own scrappage scheme so that I could purchase a petrol model.
The VW Golf had a reputation for retaining its valve but with the diesel / emissions problems it would be interesting to see whether this was still the case.
A complete & utter disgrace. Another pack of lies that we the very very long suffering motorists have been subjected to by this & previous governments. How do we now trust anything the politicians tell us. We really do need a complete change from the very top of government to the bottom. Whether this is in the form of a revolution is for the people to decide. Unfortunately the fight has slowly been removed from us by governments past & present.
Asking you a question, do you think we as a people would’ve tolerated this 30-40 yrs ago?
It’s rather rich (aka: dumb) for environmental campaigners to target ‘nitrogen’ when it comprises 78% of the atmosphere.
Is this the same as the ecomentalists’ inability to differentiate ‘carbon’ from ‘CO2’. They surely mean nitrous oxides!
Zero emission cars do not exist. They merely emit the carbon at the power stations. Nother to mention the huge cost of recycling poisonous lithium batteries.
The idea that this whole issue is a recent thing is just spurious. As the 70s turned to the 80s, I was studying Mechanical Engineering and I remember one of my lecturers THEN telling me just how polluting Diesels were as part of a pros and cons discussion of a Thermodynamics class. The reason we are in this mess is because no-one cared, not because we didn’t know.
Have Clientearth, who ever they are been to Japan and China and seen the pollution that these two countries emit every day, Its time our government told these so called “Do Gooders” to make sure other countries get their act together before commenting about this country.
How many commercial diesel vehicles are there vs private? Scrapping private vehicles only wont improve things. Surely charging delivery trucks extra will just increase the costs of goods and services?
The very latest diesels – like the Audi Ultra range – have very low emissions, and secondary catalytic reduction to reduce NOx further. Without diesel, Co2 reductions would never have been achieved, and it is only in the last few years that petrol vehicles’ CO2 have get anywhere near as low as diesels. Of course, ALL older cars – petrol and diesel – are more polluting than newer ones.
Since most deliveries require the large diesel lorries I cant see how thw country can gain by taxing them our of existance.
There are not enough petrol lorrys at present being produced to replace the diesels and they emit greater amounts of carbon monoxide and sulphur fumes so are equally a problem not a solution.
There are no electric vehicles capable of taking heavy loads up a mountain and there are many in this country.
The real answer is better maintenance of the vehicles to reduce the pollution or to go over to steam lorries heated by propane but needing a lot of extra weight as the water is not light.
We do not want Atomic powered lorries as they are nasty things. Nosey
With all the improvements in vehicle efficiency and engine management systems and cat converters why are they still banging on about diesel pollutants. They just want to tax the public out of existence. Is it any wonder Brexit won and now Donald Trump won. People are sick and tired of being told one thing and a short time later they are told something completely different. General public seem to treated like mushrooms feed them s–t and keep them in the dark
A wonderful opportunity for exhaust manufacturers, especially if retro-fit kits could be manufactured as well.
Yet another typical about-face from the government (and they’re all the same – the political party doesn’t make any difference). As your article says, we have all been encouraged to buy Diesel vehicles for years, and now we’re the scourge of the earth! We will now all have to pay the penalty for the government’s mistakes yet again. The trouble with the British public is that we lie down and take this time after time, and just “get on with it”. We should protest more visibly and verbally (and legally of course) so the government knows we are all a bit hacked off……
When I went to school, our science teacher told us that the air we breathe is 80% nitrogen so what are they getting so excited about? More scaremongering?
‘Nitrogen’ on this context is shorthand for Nitrogen Oxides, a Nitrgoen compound not Nitrogen gas the slement.
Is it not true that some car manufacturers are testing the addition of 2stroke to diesel fuel because the sulphur content has been reduced creating more rapid wear on components. I tried this on my last vehicle (2003 xc70) at a rate of 500:1. This made the engine much quieter and the emissions test at mot went right down to almost zero. This is a very cheap way to get more mpg ( approximately 40 miles per tank of fuel was achieved).
It would be totally wrong to penalise existing diesel owners who were encouraged to take that option.
It should apply to new vehicles encouraging manufacturers to develop and make cleaner diesel engines.
Old ones will disappear anyway in a few years.
Every day you can see lorries, often foreign and buses belching out clouds of black smoke and nothing is done about them. Also tatty cars that have never passed a lawful MOT and that are so obvious that the police must be turning a blind eye to them. I have a Skoda Octavia diesel and it has sailed through every MOT with a comment that the emissions were so low that they could not be recorded. Now whether this has someting to do with the VW scandal and is a false reading I don’t know but it is rather galling to think I may have to pay more tax because I drive a “cleaner” diesel.
What there isn’t is encouragement for people to choose the right type of vehicle for the journeys that they do and what they use their car for. Its great encouraging people to buy a 1.4L petrol but if they are up and down the motorway each day they would be far better (and the environment – not that I buy into that nonsense either!) if they had a 2L diesel. THAT is where it all went wrong!
TFL have asked for comments in regard to imposing a surcharge for diesel vehicles entering London
Diesel car owners should file their comments on the Transport for London website prior to the 17th Dec
DIESEL CAR OWNERS HAVE BEEN CONNED BY THE GOVERNMENT It is disgusting that we have been misled by the Government’s advice and their evident incompetence”
I bought a Volkswagen caddy blue motion as it could fit my wheelchair in was supposedly environmentally friendly had a reduced road tax , because of its environmental benefits I live on a disability pension which the government keep trying to take away. Now the car that is the biggest expense of my life , isn’t environmental Volkswagen still haven’t rectified the problem that they said what are year ago they would do.
in America apparently they have bought back cars that were affected if that’s what the customer wanted or they have updated to be compensated customers. England I’m still waiting and it’s now 10 November and still no word as to when this problem will be resolved I think Volkswagen should buy back our vehicles it’s a problem that was caused by Volkswagen screed it it’s the little person who trusted the day Volkswagen who ends up with the shitty end of the stick .
That’s gobbledegook Peter. It needs re-writing so that we can understand your point!!!!
hi wish when the Government makes a STATEMENT for people to go with DIESEL VEHICLES THEY WOULD STICK TO THERE GUNS BUT THAT WOULD BE TOO MUCH TO ASK FOR SILLY ME
The “secret” policies of all Governments, Councils, courts and organisations such as airports have always screwed every penny they could from the motorist, and nothing will change until………?
Where will it stop?
I don’t know how much we all contribute on an annual basis but it is obviously billions of pounds.
Your organisation offers a plea from the dark and somehow needs to be in a significantly higher and even draconian position to look after our interests.
So, what can we do?
Let’s set up a pyramid system and every one of us positively persuade a relation/friend/work mate to join you. If we all enter into the spirit of such a system there is no reason that 60, 70 or even 80 percent of motorists could give you the backing to take on those who are just taking advantage of us all.
Publish these comments in your news sheet and set a date for the start of this activity. This should enable everyone to see the impact.
For obvious reasons, I am an unknown person.
The government should give compensation to all people who bought diesel cars on their false science
The politicians are carrying out similar policies on climate change and global warming.
Anyone who needs convincing go and source Jeremy Corbyn’s brother who happens to be a professor on the subject.
ALREADY PAY FAR HIGHER ROAD TAX CHARGES £200+ !!
I believe that older diesel cars are much more polluting than new ones. A scrappage scheme would be a good idea although I believe it has been rejected. The government should consider it again in the light of the court ruling.
As someone who suffers from a lung condition and is affected by pollution, but who owns a newish diesel car, I accept that something has to be done now that we have the correct facts at last.
Why do we let politicians run the country? The recent referendum showed what we think of them!
The current position is a prime example of short term, quick, simple single issue thinking an policy. The changes to Vehicle Excise Duty were aimed at reducing CO2 emissions with no consideration of unintended consequences. Because diesel has lower CO2 emissions per mile and is the cheapest, familiar and readily available technology competitive pressure meant that this was the most popular solution. In reality, to address air quality issues in city centres emissions of both nitrogen oxides and particulates need to be massively reduced which actually means fewer vehicles doing fewer miles, i.e. reduction in car, van and lorry use!
This will not be popular and is therefore unlikely to be seriously addressed by elected political decision makers!
Just addressing diesel is tinkering around the edges!
It has been widely known for some time that diesel fuel emits more pollutants than petrol. Also even greener cars use the roads and need to contribute at least something for their upkeep. Tarmac does not come cheap and neither does anything else that road tax is meant to finance.
The comments you make are exactly right. I bought a new diesel car in April before the latest denouncement for diesel cars really came about. Having said that, the BMW X3 I have bought wasn’t available in a petrol model.
Diesel cars were promoted heavily a few years back now under Tony Blair. Surely now the Governments should be held accountable for correcting their error. Is there not some way in which you as an organisation with the support of people like myself, could act on our behalf to highlight this mis-justice at a Government level. You would have so much support.
Typical, You buy a diesel for the economy and think according to government guidelines you are reasonably helping to cause less pollution to the environment and now an about turn on emissions. Just another reason brought forward to raise more tax on the already taxed motorist. Where will it end?
There is a need to further develop existing technology for filtering exhaust gasses. This already exists but could do more. It could involve a filter that is disposable and replacable at fuel points. This of course only addresses particulate emissions.
Overall, it has to be simple and effective. If it gets complicated then it won’t be used. It will get more costly if it tries to do too much.
Putting “road” tax on fuel would be the fairest solution. greatest users tend to be the greatest polluters. The low users should not be punished for the excesses of others. The transport industry would be up in arms but they are the road users that not only polute but damage our roads the most. They currently pay high road charges but it is not condusive with the damage that they do.
Any changes that our small country make will have little effect on the world. Its the big polluters like China,India ,Russia and America that need to get their house in order.
This so called ‘zero emission’ vehicle paranoia is driving me mad. There is no such thing as zero emission in fact they are awful polluters!!! Batteries for one; they use a vast amount of awful chemicals, are leaving chemical lakes in parts of the world and then have to be disposed of using even more resource and producing more waste. The idea the electricity used in charging them is ‘zero emission’ is another fallacy ‘it has to be generated’!!! Causing yes you have It ’emissions’!!
Wake up governments for goodness sake.
Add the irony of swapping a polluting car for a new car – which by definition will produce a massive amount more
pollution by the new car having been made.
Add into that the question of what happens to the old car – most likely not to be recycled properly – and which ever way it goes that process will also make more pollution.
Got to love governments – never manage to make the correct decision – esp when reviewed years later.
Great ! I’ve only had my Antara 2012 diesel for a while. More expense.
Our Government and the EU made this error, encouraging us all to buy diesel cars. To punish us for their mistakes shows the level to which our politicians have sunk.
Why has the UK government not followed the US example and sued VW? Without too much hassle VW stumped up $15billion in fines. That would help with a ‘transition’ to ‘greener’ petrol!
Can we elect someone to government that actually has a brain and knows how to use it.
So what is new, here we have yet another interfering big brother group enforcing their will via court cases.
Why bother with government when small bands of the great and the good can overturn anything they don’t like by the simple expedient of going to court.
Oh that I had sufficient funds to do just the same!
Will we have a common-sense approach like whatever is decided applies from the day of the ruling and is NOT back dated to sweep up the all those who acted on previous government advice.
If it comes to pass give everyone with a diesel vehicle a special card every time they renew their road tax that entails them to pre ruling tax and duty rate on any diesel they buy for the car covered by the card!
If they want to stop the use of diesel car then apply punitive taxes to NEW vehicles and leave the rest of us alone.
Diesel drivers should not see this as unfair. The great motoring writer LJK Setright said in 1994 that if people could not differentiate between burning an oil (diesel) and a spirit (petrol) they need their heads examined. Imperial College London published a report in 1998 which clearly showed the toxic emissions of diesels and the rise in cases of asthma. Gordon brown suppressed that report and in act of defiance cut the tax on diesel.
The truth is that German car manufacturers have spent 40.2 billion on diesel technology and want to get their money back. They are still producing diesel cars the Mercedes Benz E class does not hav a single petrol model.
Diesel car drivers knew about the emissions, but are selfish and believed the “false propaganda” i.e better mileage, cleaner emissions etc. Well the VW cae in America demonstrated. beyond any reasonable doubt that the car companies that make diesels lied. Governments lie all the time and we should know better. Try burning a tablespoon if diesel and a tablespoon of petrol and see the effect. QED
Well said, Alfa.
No one has the excuse that they didn’t know diesel engines were not dirty. When I got my one and only diesel car in 2005 I knew it wasn’t as clean as petrol but glossed over the issue. I feel guilty now as I smell the stink the vehicles generate. Nowadays petrol engines are nearly as economical as diesel, my present car has a petrol engine that achieves about 4mpg less than the diesel before it.
One thing I hope is that a move back to petrol might make pseudo 4x4s less acceptable if it takes £100 to fill their tanks. The darned things are too large for UK roads and parking. They aren’t even as safe as ordinary cars, as Fifth Gear demonstrated.
incorrect. there were the E200 which was a petrol, it may have been dropped since I last enquired, but the E63 AMG is most DEFINITELY a petrol engine vehicle
Polluting vehicles is a problem I agree . There is a much bigger picture here .The non polluting vehicle does not exist .The batteries used in electric vehicles are themselves polluting , what cost will there be for the disposal of them ? Electricity generated to run them is highly polluting at the point of production , is this going to be taxed at the same rate as diesel to compensate ? Excise Duty should be scrapped altogether and should be amalgamated into fuel duty to make a genuine user pays policy .
Unfair again on drivers of cars with low emission ratings.
Much of this is pollution from bus,coach and lorrys that could be better controlled in city areas. Lorry transports put onto trains if the cost of that was brought down. Thus freeing up congestion
Electric busses used and tramways
Come on UK it ain’t brain surgery
It doesn’t matter what the problem, the British government will go about it the most expensive and shambolic way possible. The fact is that if you listen to all the so called experts, they lean to the side that is paying for their research, so none are unbiased. One only has to look at countries like China and India to see they don’t give a toss about pollution, so whatever excuse the UK government gives for hiking “Green” taxes is just a money making racket, and pandering to another minority group. Discrimination in the UK is supposed to be illegal, but it seems that is forgotten when it comes to the motorist in general and diesel drivers in particular.