Judicial Reviews invoked by Motoring Groups

T-Charge. The Sun has reported that FairFuelUK are planning to challenge the Mayor of London’s introduction of the “Toxicity Tax” (“T-Charge”) via a judicial review in the High Court. This is a tax of £10 on certain older vehicles that do not meet newer emission standards that is being imposed from October if they are driven into the central congestion charge area.

The challenge will be on the basis that it is unfair discrimination against a small minority of road users when other vehicles (e.g. TfL buses) and other sources (e.g. construction machinery and diggers) generate more pollution. In other words, it is an unreasonable attack on car users.

FairFuelUK may be looking for financial support to enable them to fight this case (judicial reviews are expensive), so anyone interested in this matter should keep an eye open for further news.

Croydon 20MPH. Another judicial review where the case has already been filed in court is that over the public consultation in Croydon on implementation of the blanket 20 MPH speed limit. The ABD supported an active local campaign against the proposals (see http://www.freedomfordrivers.org/Croydon20.htm ) and we have also complained to the Council about the defective consultation process. The process was changed from one area to another, apparently with the objective of obtaining the desired result, the information provided to residents was biased, the results ignored, and objections not considered properly. There are established legal principles about how public consultation should be run to ensure they are fair and unbiased, which is no doubt the basis of the challenge.

Both cases are in essence about illogical and unreasonable attacks on car and van drivers in the name of environmental improvement when there will allegedly be negligible advantage but significant costs imposed on drivers.

Roger Lawson

 

H&F Air Quality Consultation and Surprising News

The London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham have produced an Air Quality Action Plan which is now open to public consultation. In summary, their proposals include:

  • Launching an electric vehicle hiring scheme – with a year’s free membership for local people,
  • Encouraging people to use electric vehicles by extending their network of charging bays,
  • Fining drivers who leave their engines running unnecessarily
  • Becoming the leading cycle-friendly borough in London with cycle quietways, cycle storage and cycle superhighways,
  • Encouraging more walking by tackling congestion, traffic speeds and by providing more greenery,
  • Reducing fossil-fuel boilers by replacing them with ultra-low nitrogen oxide boilers and ensuring energy plants are regulated through the planning process.

Not too many surprises there apart from the last one perhaps. But in the detail of the plan there is some surprising information. For example, it shows that as regards the impact of road transport on PM10, some 76% of them come from tyre and brake wear rather than engine tailpipe emissions.

Even more noteworthy is a statement on page 13 that they estimate that by 2020 emissions from road transport will reduce so much that it is projected that domestic and commercial gas sources will become the largest contributor of NOX in the borough, relegating transport to second place.

So will Mayor Sadiq Khan penalise inefficient and older heating boilers soon by forcing users to upgrade them, or imposing “emission charges” on them in the same way he has done for older car users?

It would be rational if he did, and clearly much more needs to be done to suppress dust on London’s streets. It was interesting watching an old film recently on television, the Blue Lamp, set in 1950, which showed water being sprayed from tankers to do just that. Perhaps we should reintroduce them. Other European cities use them. Or are they already being used in London but I don’t get up early enough to see them?

The H&F Draft Action Plan can be read here: https://www.lbhf.gov.uk/sites/default/files/section_attachments/hf_draft_air_quality_action_plan_2018-2023.pdf

Local residents should submit some comments.

Roger Lawson

 

The Social Costs of Air Pollution

A very good paper on the costs of air pollution in the UK, and the costs likely to be imposed on the public by the proposed measures nationwide, particularly in London, has been produced by Neil Lock. It is entitled “The Social Costs of Air Pollution from Cars in the UK” and is available here: http://www.freedomfordrivers.org/Social-Cost-Cars.pdf

Mr Lock in his Conclusion to the note says the following: “If my figures are right, then on the specific issue of air pollution from cars in the UK, there may be a case for charging drivers of Euro 3 and perhaps Euro 4 diesel cars to enter certain very limited areas like central London. There is no social cost case for any such charges for Euro 5 or 6 diesels, or for any petrol cars. There is a case for charging drivers of diesels, and of petrol cars which do not meet the latest standard, an amount equivalent to the social cost of the pollution they cause (excluding the part of the pollution from diesels which is the manufacturer’s fault). There is no case for charging any more than this.”

He also says: “It is high time, I think, for the good people of the UK and of the world to wake up. To see the deep green agenda for what it is. To reject it and its proponents. And to seek to set up in its place just measures based on good science, honesty and common sense.”

The paper is well worth reading, particularly by those who live in London and who will be affected by Sadiq Khan’s plans. More technical data is available to support his case if you need it. Mr Lock can be contacted at e-mail: neillock@aol.com.  Mr Lock is a software consultant, with a degree in mathematics. He lives in Surrey and drives a diesel car, which he says he would not have bought if he could have found a petrol one of the model he wanted at the time.

Roger Lawson

Diesel and Petrol Car Demonisation Unjustifiable

Bearing in mind the recent Government announcement that diesel and petrol driven cars will be banned by 2040, and the recent policy announcements by the Mayor of London on the ULEZ and his Transport Strategy, it’s worth repeating what the Alliance of British Drivers (ABD) have said at the national level on this topic. Here is a summary of their recent press release (note particularly their comments on air pollution and life expectancy in some London boroughs):

Diesel and Petrol Car Demonisation Scientifically Unjustifiable says ABD

So, diesel and petrol cars will no longer be on sale after 2040, politicians have decided. They would be well-advised to consult their electorate first. For decades now, whenever government wants to change (and invariably increase!) vehicle taxation, scientifically unsound diesel and petrol car emission scare stories have been periodically rolled out by tax-hungry politicians; and supported by useful-idiot eco-lobbyists who simply wish to curtail freedom and personal mobility. The true situation is that car emissions – and indeed those of all major atmospheric pollutants – have been dramatically declining for the past four-and-a-half decades[1].

The main reason that we have city centre emissions hotspots is government’s own anti-car policies.

Traffic speeds have plummeted to below walking-pace (typically boosting, e,g, NOx & NO2 emissions by a factor of four times compared with free-flow levels) due to subtraction of road space to accommodate intermittently utilised bus- and cycle-lanes, traffic light phasing deliberately set to increase gating and a panoply of other ill-considered measures aimed at slowing, hindering and generally obstructing traffic flow.

All current car emissions scare-stories share a common thread: they are based on junk epidemiology studies. These seek to exaggerate any tenuous connection between (declining) urban pollution levels (or proxies for them) and predicted mortality advancements amongst a very specific target group in the general population: one subject to chronically-degraded lung-function through genetic, occupational or lifestyle choices – or combinations of all three. These studies invariably exhibit very low correlation coefficients and extremely wide levels of uncertainty/ inaccuracy [2],[3]. Their value as predictive tools – as opposed to newspaper-selling scare-story generators – is negligible [4].

Mortality advancement episodes are invariably precipitated by two very specific weather condition scenarios: very low humidity in combination with either: (a) very high-; or (b) very low, temperatures. There is a much stronger correlation between mortality advancement and the frequency of such weather events than there is with urban air pollution levels. Amid all the urban emissions hype and hysteria, the scientifically-illiterate, sensationalist media have overlooked a colossal paradox: the boroughs of Chelsea, Kensington and Westminster – which boast amongst the highest (and rising) average life expectancy (and average income) figures in the United Kingdom[5] – also have amongst the worst measured urban air pollution statistics[6].

The primary determinants of life expectancy in the UK remain income and consequent lifestyle choices. Given that UK urban air pollution has declined dramatically (and average life expectancies have steadily risen) year-on-year since the Clean Air Acts; and will continue to do so with continuing advances in technology, isn’t it time the environmental lobby and cynical, vote-/ tax-rise chasing politicians laid off road users and focussed their attention elsewhere?

A recent BBC Science article reported that in Central London, only 5% of NOx comes from private diesel cars[7]. Trucks, taxis and public transport represent an even greater proportion. Public transport hubs: e.g., railway and bus stations and Thames shipping are also major contributors. However, 38% originated from commercial and domestic heating systems. Indeed, the overwhelming proportions of all the problem urban emissions: NO2, NOx, PM2.5s & PM10s arise from industry, commercial and domestic heating systems, plus “imported” emissions blown in from Europe. So unless we are prepared to adopt a BANANA strategy: Ban Anything Near Anyone Near Anywhere: stop consuming, heating our homes and workplaces, ban all industry and all travel, scientifically and economically viable alternatives must be adopted.

If politicians were really committed to improving urban air quality, they would immediately implement the five Action Points below.

1.    Most importantly of all, reverse the pernicious traffic gating-, lane-subtraction-, public transport- and cycle-prioritisation policies that have brought traffic speeds in our major cities down to a staccato mix of stationary and walking pace progress – with consequent completely avoidable adverse emissions and urban air quality effects.

2.    Invoke in the short term more targeted pursuit of the worst transport sector polluters; getting the highest emissions (mainly public transport & delivery) vehicles remediated or scrapped.

3.    Persuade heating and transport fuel manufacturers to alter their refining processes; further purifying their products, yielding cleaner-burning versions which produce lower concentrations of NO2, NOx, PM2.5s, PM10s and SOx,

4.    If, as is being constantly preached to us, the future is electric, Government must facilitate and fund the development of electric vehicles with an all-weather conditions range of between 350 and 700 miles, and a recharging time comparable to that required to refill a modern, liquid-fuelled car. Performance capabilities must also match that typically achievable by modern petrol and diesel cars.

5.    Government must also provide the infrastructure investment for all UK private dwellings to have the facility to park off-road – and recharge – at least two electric vehicles per household resident at that dwelling.

But then government is only really committed to squeezing every last drop of tax revenue from road users – by fair means or (usually) foul.

References:

1 Emissions time-series figure reproduced with permission from a Local Transport Today article authored by Mr. P. Dobson (LTT726; 07-20/07/2017,  p.20).

2 https://wintoncentre.maths.cam.ac.uk/news/does-air-pollution-kill-40000-people-each-year-uk

3 http://www.fairmotoring.com/index.php?entry_id=1500786900

4 http://www.cei.org/pdf/3452.pdf

5 http://www.getwestlondon.co.uk/news/local-news/watch-kensington-chelsea-uks-highest-8141416

6 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/10758548/Why-living-in-Chelsea-could-be-deadly.html 7 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-38979754

Roger Lawson

London Mayor’s Transport Strategy – A Blatant Attack on Motorists – Campaign Against It Launched

The ABD have issued the following press release:

Last year Sadiq Khan was elected Mayor of London on a manifesto pledging to tackle congestion through harmless-sounding measures like encouraging car clubs and managing road works. He also promised to maintain the Congestion Charge at its current level.

He would not have got elected if he had come out with blatantly anti-motorist proposals. However, his recent Mayor’s Transport Strategy (MTS) does precisely this.

The under-publicised proposals seek “new ways of paying for road use”, hinting at pay-per-mile road pricing. This could see the Congestion Charge extended across Greater London, with local boroughs asked to use it as a blunt traffic reduction measure. Alternatively, they could be asked to bring in “Workplace Parking Levies” – effectively a tax on going to work.

Britain’s drivers pay five times over to use the roads. Yet the Mayor feels that Londoners “pay too little”, without giving any figures to support this. He alleges that public transport fare payers subsidise motorists which is simply wrong – the reverse is the case as public transport is massively subsidised out of public taxation while motorists pay more than the costs of maintaining the roads.

It is particularly worrying that he wants to take over collection of VED (“road tax”) and set the rates which would provide another way for the Mayor to extract money from car drivers on top of congestion charging.

He seeks to discourage car ownership, using a reduction in the availability of private parking and kerb side parking spaces with discriminatory parking charges against some vehicles.

Even Private Hire Vehicles (PHVs – minicabs) come under attack with proposals to limit their numbers or increase their costs by dropping their exemption from the congestion charge.

He proposes reallocating road space away from drivers, even though the reduction in space has been a key factor in increasing congestion. He even hints at car parking at stations being made less convenient or spaces being removed.

In summary, the Mayor makes it plain that he intends to reduce car use in favour of public transport, cycling and walking by penalising motorists and making it more expensive for you to own and drive a car. The private motorist could become a vanishing species in London if the Mayor has his way, or your costs for driving will skyrocket.

These proposals would give the Mayor the ability to build a financial empire and dictate the lives of Londoners much more extensively than at present. The MTS is yet another missed opportunity to develop an integrated transport strategy with an improved road network in London.

Readers have until 2nd October to object to the proposals. The Alliance of British Drivers (ABD) is supporting a campaign which has been launched against the Mayor’s proposals. For more information, please visit http://www.cantpaywontpay.london/

More Information 

Mayor’s Manifesto: http://www.sadiq.london/a_manifesto_for_all_londoners

Mayor’s Transport Strategy (MTS): https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/transport/our-vision-transport/draft-mayors-transport-strategy-2017

For the ABD’s analysis of the Mayor’s Transport Strategy, see: https://abdlondon.wordpress.com/2017/07/07/mayors-transport-strategy-an-attack-on-private-transport-with-dubious-economics/

For more information on this issue, contact Roger Lawson on 020-8295-0378

________________________________________________________

Make sure you object to this blatant attack on motorists.

 

Wallets on Wheels, and Electric Cars

A couple of interesting articles in the Daily Telegraph today (13/7/2017). Firstly there was a report on the comments on parking revenues from AA President Edmund King. He said that local authorities are reducing their expenditure on road maintenance and street lights while increasing parking charges that normally help to finance them. Specifically, he said “Far too often drivers are viewed by every level of government as wallets on wheels”. How true that is. The Greater London Authority made the largest reduction in expenditure at £59.5 million, way ahead of the next largest of £6.2 million in North Yorkshire.

Another article was on the potential demand for electric power if the number of electric vehicles grows as expected. Certainly in London the Mayor’s recent Transport Strategy document (see https://abdlondon.wordpress.com/2017/07/07/mayors-transport-strategy-an-attack-on-private-transport-with-dubious-economics/ ) suggests that by 2050 most cars will be electric – at least they will be if the Mayor has his way. The Telegraph article suggested that this might add 30% to peak electric power demand, thus requiring the equivalent of five Hinkley Point C nuclear plants according to National Grid. See publication entitled “Future Energy Scenarios” issued by National Grid. Even if people only charge their electric cars in off-peak periods, the additional demand could be very substantial. As I plan to attend the National Grid Annual General Meeting later this month, I may ask some questions on how they plan to cover this.

But readers may be interested to know that I am planning ahead on this issue and recently had a test drive of a Tesla Model S. A very impressive vehicle altogether and obviously getting near the point where electric vehicles are practical for most car drivers. Somewhat expensive at present as it’s really aimed at the luxury car market, but Tesla announced the first production deliveries of the new Model 3 this week which will be substantially cheaper (not yet available in the UK). One can see that in two or three years time, all electric cars will be a viable proposition for most drivers, particularly if the costs come down as expected. Volvo announced this week that all their new models after 2019 will be electric or hybrid so you can see the way the wind is blowing.

But that still leaves the problem of generating all the extra electricity, particularly when the wind is not blowing and the sun is not out. To meet the demand in the timescale required might simply result in more cheap gas power stations, not nuclear. I am yet to be convinced that this migration to electric vehicles makes much environmental sense because of the inefficient energy conversion involved in comparison with a modern petrol engine. We might end up with more air pollution rather than less, although the Mayor of London will no doubt ensure its not on his patch.

Roger Lawson

Media Coverage of Air Pollution and Electric Vehicles

With the Mayor of London’s plans for the ULEZ, his new Transport Strategy and the Government about to publish their air quality plans for cities, the issue of air pollution has been getting a lot of media coverage of late.

The Evening Standard ran an article by David Williams on the 28th June headlined “Don’t punish the car drivers for air pollution when other causes are worse”. The article said that making motorists pay punitive charges will fail to achieve major cuts in London’s pollution. This is the argument put forward by campaign group FairFuelUK who say it is more about raising cash as the revenue raised is not ringfenced to tackling emissions or congestion. One cannot but agree with them.

They also suggest that politicians are aiming for the wrong target by focussing on private cars which contribute only 11% of NOX emissions when 16% comes from gas central heating, 14% from diesel machinery and a lot from LGVs. Other sources are air traffic, air conditioning and HGVs. They also complain that local authorities have failed to cope with particulates that are left on roads by tyres and brakes.

FairFuelUK are asking people to write to Michael Gove and Theresa Coffey on the prospective additional taxation of diesel cars while promoting alternative solutions. For example, instead of an expensive diesel vehicle scrappage scheme they suggest retrofit devices can solve the problem on most vehicles. In addition, they push for the adoption of E10 fuel (an ethanol/petrol blend) which most cars can run on perfectly well and is widely available in other countries. They also promote the use of additives to reduce diesel emissions as is mandated in Texas. This can cut NOX emissions by 67%, and reduce other pollutants also. It does seem there are a number of other possible solutions that would be both cheaper and more effective than taxing motorists or forcing them to replace their vehicles – as Sadiq Khan is doing in London.

You can read about the FairFuelUK campaign here: http://act.fairfueluk.com/lobby/Defra-Plan .

I would encourage you to support it.

In the Financial Times on the 8th July there was a good article by Neil Collins on the unforeseen consequences of the push for electric cars. It was headlined “Electric cars are a pain in the wallet for those who don’t drive them”, and it spelled out the wonders of such vehicles.

But the downside is the loss of fuel tax to the Government (£28 billion per year and rising), while electric vehicles are subsidised by the Government. In addition, there are major problems in developing the electricity supply grid to cope with future demand. He says “The energy transfer at a busy filling station is about equivalent to the output of a mid-sized power station” and goes on to explain the energy inefficiency of electric cars due to high distribution and storage costs. He notes that: “Electric cars are gathering speed thanks to politics rather than economics”.

This writer has so far avoided the lure of electric or hybrid vehicles simply because the economics did not stack up. A Prius might work well for a high mileage Uber driver and all electric vehicles have historically had problems of range, recharging time and cost. But they are getting better. I am having a test drive of Tesla Model S next week so I may be able to report my impressions in due course.

Roger Lawson