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Government under fire for not tackling diesels in Budget

The chancellor has missed an opportunity to tackle air quality by imposing a first-year VED charge for diesel vehicles in the Budget.

Fuel pumps

It is estimated that up to 40,000 deaths a year are attributable to outdoor air pollution.

That’s the view of environment lawyers at ClientEarth, who have also expressed doubts about the efficacy of the UK government’s air quality plans, which are due out in the coming weeks.

ClientEarth – which recently won a High Court ruling against the Government over its failure to tackle illegal air pollution across the UK – said there was a gaping hole in the Budget where diesel measures should have been. Instead, the Budget documents said the Government will continue to “explore the appropriate tax treatment for diesel vehicles, and will engage with stakeholders ahead of making any tax changes at Autumn Budget 2017”.

According to the Royal College of Physicians, around 40,000 deaths are attributable to exposure to outdoor air pollution, which has been linked to cancer, asthma, stroke and heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and changes linked to dementia.

Earlier this year, the European Commission sent a “final warning” to the UK, as well as a number of other European countries, for failing to address repeated breaches of legal air pollution limits, saying that Member States that failed to act within two months, could face a case at the Court of Justice.

ClientEarth CEO James Thornton commented: “A first-year charge for new diesels would have been a strong signal that this government has woken up to the public health crisis of air pollution. Despite being ordered twice by the courts to take urgent steps to tackle the country’s air pollution crisis, it seems the Treasury has still not grasped the urgency of the situation. We fear that government plans, which are due out next month, may well fall short of what is needed.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.