Following the footsteps of France, the UK government has finally made a draft proposal to ban all petrol and diesel powered cars and trucks. The much needed move promises to curb the depleting air quality in the UK.
The ban on internal combustion engines, which dominated the automobile business for more than a century, will cost Britain more £3 billion. The plan includes provisions for ultra-low emission vehicles and £ 100m for infrastructure development for charging points and “plug-in car” and “plug-in grant” schemes, as per The Guardian.
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Every year there are more than 40,000 premature deaths attributable only to the high level of air pollution in the UK. The draft plan aims to reduce air pollution and recapture loss of productivity, estimated at £2.7bn, due to air pollution every year.
The proposed clean air plan
“Poor air quality is the biggest environmental risk to public health in the UK and this government is determined to take strong action in the shortest time possible,” said a government spokesman. He adds, “That is why we are providing councils with new funding to accelerate development of local plans, as part of an ambitious £3bn programme to clean up dirty air around our roads.”
Earlier measures taken by the UK authorities are termed as an eyewash, drawing public ire. The measures include changing road layouts, altering routes, more speed bumps, retrofitting public transportation to control air pollution ridiculed by the public and also breached EU rules for controlling pollution.
Initially, the draft plan may propose to impose a toxic tax or simply a T-tax for older cars entering “Clean Air Zones”, which could be around £10, following London initiative of curbing air pollution. But, UK’s Environment Secretary, Michael Gove, refused to claim that taxes will be imposed, fearing a public outcry from motorists. Instead, he expects local authorities and councils to come up with innovative plans to tackle air pollution in their respective cities.
Though the high court ordered to submit the draft policy early, the UK Government has postponed it to submit it only after the elections to avoid controversy. Judge lamented the poorly drafted policy to select five clean air zones as ill-conceived.
At present, as per high court instructions, UK’s health minister is scheduled to table this plan by the end of July. However, the new government air clean up plan has not gone well with environmentalists and opposition.
Environmentalists unhappy with the draft plan
“We cannot wait nearly a quarter of a century for real action to tackle the public health emergency caused by air pollution” said Areeba Hamid, a Greenpeace activist. Expressing his concerns over the poor plan, he added, “It means that children across the UK will continue to be exposed to harmful air pollution for years to come, with potentially irreversible impacts.”
Many environmentalists feel that 23 years is a very long time to wait for clean air zones. Taking the cue from the Swedish car maker, Volvo to produce only electric cars by 2019, an early imposition of car ban could probably speed up the introduction of electric cars on the roads.