Patrick McLoughlin, Transport Secretary, has proposed an increase on tax for diesel in an effort to cut down on air pollution.
McLoughlin stated “hiking fuel duty or low-emission taxes is something the Chancellor will need to look at” in a plan to reduce nitrogen oxide levels and deaths caused because of the harmful atmosphere in cities.
His statement will create concern among haulage firms, increased taxes would mean higher costs to deliver goods which will have an adverse effect on prices for consumers.
There were previous plans for a diesel scrappage scheme, which the government rejected. The plan involved offering diesel vehicle drivers cash for their vehicles to trade them in. The more recent statement from the Transport Secretary implies that owners of diesel vehicles could be charged more for their vehicle’s tax.
The Transport Secretary spoke to the London Evening Standard when questioned about the impact diesel engines have on the environment and polluting the air: “We have got to look at that. It is something the Chancellor will need to look at in due course. It’s something that we’ve got to address. We are addressing it through the Government’s air quality strategy.”
The Royal College of Physicians estimated around 40,000 people die sooner than expected in the UK each year due to air pollution. They also believe the cause of the increased air pollution is due to the amount of diesel cars on the road day by day. This data gave the Government motivation to find a way to reduce carbon emissions.
Ex-Labour Chancellor, Gordon Brown trimmed low-sulphur diesel duty by 3p during 2001 planning to lower carbon emissions. George Osborne as Chancellor would decide any future plans for budget.
Many are worried about the tax breaks on diesel fuel following the VW emissions scandal in 2015. It revealed low emission diesel engines were reset to trick tests and improve results to make vehicles look more economical. The Department for Transport discovered diesel cars purchased in the UK give out over six times the legal limit for nitrogen oxide.
The Secretary called Gordon Brown’s cut to the duty on diesel “A mistake” stating that the decision caused a major impact on the environment. Barry Gardiner, a politician of the Labour party agreed with the statement, going so far as to say: “Hands up - there’s absolutely no question that the decision we took was the wrong decision.”
Former science minister Lord Drayson said the vehicles are “literally killing people” because they emit four times as much nitrogen oxide and up to 20 times as many particulates, which can damage major organs in the body.
Stats were also highlighted demonstrating sales of diesel vehicles in the UK has been on a steady rise, increasing to 138% in just under 10 years, this also increases emissions from diesel vehicles across the UK. Many blame the previous Prime Minister’s decision to cut tax, which lead to increased sales.
The Transport Secretary stated that he and Gordon Brown “thought they were doing the right thing” by cutting emissions, however they had not considered the rise in hazardous chemicals connected to the fuel. Mr Brown also showed plans to convince firms to convert to diesel vehicles, further adding to increase in the chemical emissions. The RHA revealed the UK has the highest levels of diesel duty in the EU, which could have a major impact on UK companies.
RHA director of policy, Jack Semple said in an interview: “Ratcheting up fuel duty means we will see even more foreign lorries on our roads and the Chancellor will reduce his revenue from British lorries because foreign lorries don’t buy any fuel in this country because it is so expensive.”
The Chancellor while labour was in Government also made adjustments to VED making it more appealing to own low-carbon cars.