Bright Blue; “A deep intellectual gene pool for the Conservative Party’s future”.
Emission Impossible, a ‘jaunty’ take on the classic TV programme, or later film series, in which the good guys wrestle the bad guys, before self-destructing. Clearly, in this case, the ‘bad guys’ are car owners, and the good = Conservative politicians. The plot encompasses all topics that register ten on the ‘devious politician’ scale; Brexit, stealth tax, cash cows, anti-pollution, emissions and car ownership.
Sadly, this isn’t the latest plot for a new blockbuster, but yet another ridiculous political report, dressed up with environmental concerns and expense for the motorist, only this time, it’s the turn of the right-wingers.
Meeting all legal requirements
Buried within the 130-pages is the statement that “The UK currently meets all its legal requirements on air pollutants, except for hourly and annual limits on NO2”, you also find that their graphs show a very real decline in kilotonnes of emissions, since 1970 to present-day – NOx, for example, has gone from around 8,900 kilotonnes since 1970, to approximately 1,800 kilotonnes today.
This isn’t a marginal decline, or a ‘trend’, this is a steady decline, consistent and proven, with a blip in the early 90s that lasted for a few years.
And yet despite their evidence to the contrary, Bright Blue is recommending a number of proposals, all aimed at the private and commercial motorist, that will make vehicle ownership even more expensive than it is already, and encourage a number of potentially nefarious activities to boot.
The car is the answer
In 2016, cars attributed 16.5% of the UK’s total NOx emissions, LGVs and HGVs accounted for 15.5%, buses and coaches made up 1.7% and motorcycles and scooters accounted for just 0.1% – a total of 33.8% of the total NOx.
That leaves a whopping 66.2% to account for; aviation weighed in at 21.5%, railways were 3.9% and shipping … 40.8% – more than the total road transport combined. And yet, once again, it’s the motorist that’s paying the price.
And what a price that will be.
Some “Bright” ideas
In amongst the proposals set-out by Bright Blue, there are a number of them that should be of concern to us all, although if you’re a diesel motorist (on the back of the recommendations of the government of the time), you may want to stop reading now.
Along with abolishing the fuel duty freeze (in place since 2010), Bright Blue say that diesel motorists should have an extra tax added to their fuel – a ‘Diesel Duty’.
Diesel Excise Duty
Not content with adding extra tax to diesel fuel, it’s also recommended that diesel motorists have their own ‘Diesel Excise Duty’ instead of the regular VED that we currently pay.
All councils should be allowed to profit from their charges for the pollution charging schemes they introduce, and we’ve all seen how their profiteering works when it comes to parking charges.
Under the new proposals, members of the public will be tasked with reporting vehicles that spend time idling unnecessarily. This isn’t a terrible idea, aside from the fact that they’ll be rewarded with a share of the spoils – a percentage of any fines levied for the offence.
Speed limit reduction
Lastly (although there are more proposals in the document), a recommendation for all urban areas to have the speed limits changed from 30mph to 20mph. Again, we’ve reported on this numerous times, and quite frankly, it’s a ridiculous notion that doesn’t work, unless working in conjunction with a number of other measures, and even then, it only works under very strict criteria.
Once again, no one denies that air pollution needs work, but we’re cleaner than we ever have been, and it’s a continuous downward slope. Further, evidence suggests that vehicles are cleaner than ever, with most modern diesels polluting less particulate matter than the equivalent petrol-engined counterpart. None of these proposals look to incentivise giving up the car, and it’s solely reliant on penalising the motorist for revenue.
They even state that councils should be able to profit from it. This isn’t stealth tax; this is purely about revenue generation for greed.
Why can’t the commercial entities such as aviation or shipping be held accountable? The simple fact is that as a nation, we’re reliant on our car; public transportation is often ineffectual or expensive (usually both), we’ve built a society of out of town retail parks, entertainment and leisure facilities. Thanks to punitive taxes leaving businesses struggling or going to the wall, full-time employment can often mean an hour’s commute each way to get to work.
Yes, if you manage to live your life without a vehicle, if you cycle or walk everywhere, and have no need for a car, that’s great news, but you’re in the minority. So while that lifestyle may work for you, that doesn’t necessarily mean that works for everyone.
What do you think to the proposals? Is this just another money-making scheme? Or do you see a real benefit from it? Let us know in the comments.