Budget 2017: Removing diesel tax incentives not enough to end the UK’s toxic air

22 Nov 2017
Chancellor shows shocking disregard for nation’s health

The Chancellor has shown a ‘shocking disregard for the nation’s heath’ by not delivering a budget which goes far enough to clean up the UK’s toxic air says Friends of the Earth, as the Chancellor announces an increase in VED for diesel cars but continues to freeze fuel duty in the budget today (22 November).

Air pollution is responsible for over 40,000 early deaths each year in the UK alone, with illegal levels of pollution in dozens of UK towns and cities across the country.

Aaron Kiely, Friends of the Earth air pollution campaigner, said:

“Removing the tax incentives for diesel cars is a welcome move given how bad diesels are for our health. But this alone is not enough to deliver clean air across the country fairly.

“The government must introduce a diesel scrappage scheme to help drivers who bought diesels in good faith switch to cleaner transport – in part funded by manufacturers.

“It’s outrageous that in 21st century Britain, there are children growing up with smaller lungs because of the filthy air they’re breathing.

“Unchecked air pollution could cost the UK £200 billion over the next 10 years. The Chancellor has shown a shocking disregard for the nation’s health by not promising the full £1.2 billion needed to deliver Clean Air Zones in our most polluted towns and cities, and taking the action needed to protect Britain’s lungs.”

Friends of the Earth called for a ‘clean air’ budget to include:

• A £1.2bn Clean Air Fund to finance effective Clean Air Zones, to get UK levels of air pollution down to legal levels by 2019

• Introduce a diesel scrappage scheme to help drivers who bought diesels in good faith switch to cleaner transport – in part funded by manufacturers

• Reverse the perverse VED diesel incentive and ensure revenue raised is ring-fenced for air quality measures

• Re-introduce the fuel duty escalator

• Spend VED and Fuel Duty income on transport options that would improve air quality and people’s health, not roads

• Invest in walking and cycling to the tune at least £20 per person

ENDS

Editor’s notes: 1. HM Treasury, Autumn Budget 2017, Air Quality.

2. Friends of the Earth’s clean air budget asks.

3. Too little, too late, Friends of the Earth’s critique of the government’s Air Quality Plan.