Petrol and Diesel Cars Face Extinction

After being preceded by numerous leaks, the Government has finally announced that it is bringing forward the date when sales of new petrol and diesel powered cars are banned to 2030 (see Reference 1 for details). The only exception is that sales of hybrid vehicles will be permitted until 2035. In practice such vehicles will go the same way as the dinosaurs, facing extinction in a few years’ time.

That will not stop such vehicles already purchased from being used after those dates but they may be discouraged in other ways of course (such as by the ULEZ in London).

This is what Allistair Heath (who described himself as “a convert” to electric cars) said in the Daily Telegraph: “The green agenda has triumphed, in the sense that cultural, political, educational and corporate elites, in the US, UK and every European country, are all in favour of decarbonisation. Opponents have been routed, with almost no chance of a way back”. He’s definitely right in that regard. There has been no cost/benefit analysis of these proposals or rational justification given. It’s all about cutting air pollution and saving the planet regardless of the negative consequences of these moves.

To start with the Government is spending £1.8 billion to support the charging infrastructure and other measures required by electrification of all vehicles. That will come out of your taxes. This is far from a trivial matter. In London and other major UK cities one big problem is that many households do not have off-street parking so there will need to be kerbside charging points installed in many streets.

The car industry, one of the major UK exporters, will have to adapt to only producing electric vehicles and much faster than they expected. They may be able to cope with that but will it damage their export capability? Nobody seems to have looked at that issue. The Government says it will create 40,000 extra jobs by 2030, particularly in our manufacturing heartlands of the North East and across the Midlands, but that seems to be very unlikely to be the case. These will not be new jobs surely, just replacing existing ones.

This is what Lord Lawson, former Chancellor of the Exchequer, had to say about the new “Green revolution”: “If the Government were trying to damage the economy, they couldn’t be doing it better. Moreover, the job creation mantra is economically illiterate. A programme to erect statues of Boris in every town and village in the land would also ‘create jobs’ but that doesn’t make it a sensible thing to do.”

Does the public demand cuts in air pollution? It was interesting to read some of the response to our recent survey of Lewisham residents where 13% said they suffered from medical conditions as a result of air pollution in their local street. Some of them might be suffering from more pollution because of the closed roads in Lewisham though and it’s worth pointing out that the majority of air pollution in the borough comes from other sources than transport (see Reference 2). In reality diesel and petrol cars contribute only 12% and 6% respectively of all emissions in London and they are falling rapidly. See Reference 3.

But a survey by London Councils reported that “The vast majority of Londoners (82%) are concerned about climate change with half of concerned respondents going further saying they are very concerned (40%). Over half of respondents (52%) feel their day-to-day life in London had been impacted by climate change”. Many years of scaremongering over climate change has clearly brainwashed the general public into believing it’s a major threat to their life. The metropolitan elites who can afford to buy electric vehicles (which currently cost a lot more than diesel/petrol ones) can salve their consciences by buying electric vehicles despite the fact that they will have minimal impact on overall levels of air pollution while UK emissions from all sources contribute only 1% to global CO2 emissions and hence cannot have any significant impact.

Will the public accept the ban on the sale of new diesel/electric vehicles and cope with it? Based on public opinion, they are likely to accept it and in reality, with a few exceptions they should be able to cope.

By 2035, electric vehicles are likely to be cheaper and also have longer range, and older vehicles will still be able to be used. If charging points are much more common as they should be in a few years, that will lessen the problems. But there are two problem areas:

Those vehicle owners with no off-street parking might find charging their vehicles problematic. And those who wish to own motorhomes or tow caravans will find electric vehicles have very short ranges.

In summary, the Government’s announcement will impose major costs on people, and on the economy while having little real impact in reality on air pollution or global warming. However, the encouragement of electric vehicles does make sense in some ways but that is already being done by taxation, by subsidies and by measures such as zero emission streets in problem areas in London.

Putting a sharp deadline on sales of some vehicles, particularly hybrid ones in 2035, just seems somewhat irrational when the dangers of air pollution have been grossly exaggerated and there will be significant problems in making the change for some people. More attention needs to be paid to other sources of air pollution and one of the major factors that has caused increases in that is the growth of the population, an issue few politicians seem to want to tackle. Air pollution directly relates to population numbers and density and London is a good example of the negative consequences of allowing unlimited population growth.

Reference 1: DfT Announcement: https://tinyurl.com/y2l4xhcw

Reference 2: Air pollution in Lewisham: https://abdlondon.wordpress.com/2020/03/04/air-pollution-in-lewisham/

Reference 3: ABD Publication: Air Quality and Vehicles: https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/Air-Quality-and-Vehicles-The-Truth.pdf  

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More School Streets, Streetspace Consultation, MPs on TV and Travel Statistics

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, is promoting the installation of even more “School Streets” where roads are closed during rush hours to cut pollution. Such closures are typically enforced by cameras, providing another source of revenue to local councils.

Already 430 have been funded with 300 now installed. By 2019 there were actually very few schools remaining where there were illegal levels of pollution. Were these reductions down to the implementation of school streets? Probably not because air pollution blows around and it’s more likely that general improvements in vehicle technology and the ULEZ scheme made the biggest impacts. 

The ABD certainly supports the encouragement of drivers on the school run to use other transport modes (such as children walking to school) but closing roads actually prejudices other road users who have legitimate reasons to be on the roads. Some roads where there are good alternative routes might be closed without too much prejudice but in other cases they are unreasonable. They have been introduced in boroughs such as Lewisham without proper consultation with local residents.

See Reference 1 below for details.

Streetspace Consultation

Numerous “Streetspace” schemes are being installed across London in boroughs such as Bromley, Camden, City of London,  Croydon, Greenwich, Hackney, Haringey, Hounslow, Islington, Kensington & Chelsea, Lambeth, Lewisham, Merton, Richmond, Southwark, Tower Hamlets, Wandsworth and Westminster. They typically involve reallocating road space as the name suggests, with road closures, and more cycle lanes being common aspects.

Transport for London (TfL) have now launched a public consultation on these schemes that anyone can respond to. See https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/general/streetspace-for-london/consultation/

PLEASE RESPOND.

MPs Debate Low Traffic Neighbourhoods

On the 12th November ITV ran a programme called the “Late Debate” which included Janet Daby (M.P. for Lewisham East) and David Simmonds (M.P. for Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner). They covered the controversy over Low Traffic Neighbourhoods but did not take a strong position against them unfortunately despite the many complaints they have generated. They both ducked the problems they create to a large extent. But you may want to watch it to see what your M.P. is saying if you live in those constituencies. See Reference 2 below.

Cycling Revolution Not Happening and the Impact on TfL

The Department for Transport (DfT) have published some statistics on travel mode usage since the Covid-19 epidemic hit – see Reference 3 below.

It shows there was a significant increase in April this year and during the summer months, but has now fallen back to more normal lower levels.

It also shows how transport on the Underground and Buses in London was decimated in the early stages of the epidemic and remains at very low levels. Hence the financial difficulties of TfL.

But the Government is about to throw another £175 million at active travel schemes (i.e. more for cycling). The only caveat is that local councils will have to do more consultation or they may lose future funding.

Reference 1: Mayor’s Statement on School Streets: https://tinyurl.com/y3eu5ck4

Reference 2: ITV London Debate:  https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=421993052295871  

Reference 3: DfT Travel Statistics: https://tinyurl.com/yd9xoqss

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The LTN, Air Pollution and Climate Emergency in Lewisham

The justification for the Low Traffic Neighbourhood (LTN) scheme in Lewisham was spelled out by Mayor Damien Egan in his webinar on the 22ndOctober (see https://tinyurl.com/LTNResidentsMeeting to watch a recording).

He said that the reasons the LTN was proposed was to a) Improve Air Quality; b) Making streets safer by reducing car journeys; and c) Making it easier to walk and cycle. He also said “road traffic is the number one cause of toxic air and toxic air kills”. Unfortunately he is wrong in several respects.

Toxic air is usually judged to be based on the level of particulates (dust) in the air and the level of nitrous oxides (NOX), although there is some debate as to whether NOX (mainly NO2) is actually damaging to health. Particulates, namely PM 2.5, are the major concern and to quote from the report in Reference 1 below “Road transport accounts for around a quarter of PM2.5 in London, with a large proportion also coming from construction, wood burning and commercial cooking”.

The ABD covered the issue of the contribution of vehicles to air quality in a report we published two years ago – see Reference 2. The Conclusion in that report said this:

“In conclusion, let it be clear that the ABD is supportive of improving air quality in the UK, particularly in urban areas and on particular roads where transport is a major generator of emissions. But there is no public health crisis and measures to improve air quality should be both reasonable and moderate. According to a recent report from Defra, since 1970 NOx emissions have fallen by 72% and Particulates (PM2.5) by 79%. The hysteria about air pollution is wrongly being used to generate tax revenues to local government (e.g. the ULEZ in London and similar proposals for other UK cities) without any justification in terms of cost/benefits. The likely improvement in air quality that will result will be unlikely to be noticed by residents because it will simply be too small and it will have no significant long-term impact on health”.

Even if you consider NOX to be of concern as a lot of it does come from transport, in practice LTNs mainly affect car users while the majority of NOX comes from buses and commercial vehicles – only 33% comes from petrol or diesel cars – see Reference 3 for the data from 2013 and it’s probably considerably less now.

Does “toxic air” kill, as the Mayor said? In reality it is very unlikely that the level of air pollution in Lewisham kills anyone at all. If you live on one of the worst streets for air pollution such as on the “A” roads where there is heavy traffic (particularly HGVs and buses), it is possible that life expectancy might be shortened by a few days. But you are likely to experience more exposure to particulates from domestic cooking and heating than from road transport. The exposure of smokers is also many times worse. Your life expectancy is most dependent on your lifestyle, domestic and work environments, not on background air pollution.

The Mayor also suggested that the streets would be safer if car journeys were reduced but diverting the journeys to main roads as the LTN is doing is not going to help. The accidents will move also to roads where higher speeds may be present. There is no evidence that overall road casualties will reduce by such an approach. In practice LTNs do not reduce car journeys significantly if a wider area is considered – they just divert journeys to longer routes.

As regards the comment that the LTN will make it easier to walk and cycle, there is no obvious problem in using either of those modes in the LTN and reducing traffic will not assist.     

Another justification given in the webinar for the LTN was by CEO Kim Wright who said it supported the Climate Emergency Strategic Action Plan adopted by the Borough – see Reference 4. Many Lewisham Councillors clearly believe they are helping to save the world from global warming by cutting CO2 emissions. Without getting into a debate on the science of global warming, you can see how futile that is in terms of actions possible by the London Borough of Lewisham by considering this data:

Lewisham emitted 805,000 tonnes of CO2 in 2017/2018 which is 0.2% of UK emissions of 354 million tonnes in 2019. The UK proportion of world emissions is about 1%, so Lewisham’s contribution to world emissions is 0.2% of 1%, i.e. 0.002%. The UK is taking vigorous actions to reduce overall emissions while countries such as China (28% of world emissions) are still building hundreds of coal-fired power plants. Any actions by Lewisham will have negligible impact on emissions in the UK let alone the world, and actions to tackle excessive CO2 emissions should be taken at a national level where it can be most effective.

In fact LTNs are unlikely to have any impact on CO2 emissions for another reason. Over 50% of CO2 emissions arise in housing – mainly domestic heating, and only 14.7% arise from cars.

In summary the main reason for the introduction of LTNs in Lewisham given by the Mayor of Lewisham simply do not stand up to scrutiny. The dogma about the need to reduce vehicles on our roads is not only unjustifiable on any cost/benefit analysis, it is simply unjustifiable full stop.

This virtue signalling by Lewisham councillors is imposing enormous inconvenience and costs on Lewisham residents that cannot be justified. Journey times have increased enormously, while air pollution on roads that already had high levels has clearly worsened.

Low Traffic Neighbourhoods do not solve anything and are based on irrational opposition to the use of vehicles which the world has come to rely on.

Roger Lawson

Reference 1: Air Pollution Monitoring Data in London: https://tinyurl.com/y57nucz9

Reference 2: Air Quality and Vehicles: The Truth: https://tinyurl.com/yx9bk9kg

Reference 3: Lewisham Air Quality Action Plan (2016-2021): https://tinyurl.com/y2n684bz

Reference 4; Lewisham Climate Emergency Strategic Action Plan: https://tinyurl.com/y34bwcnj

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Extremism in Southwark

The London Borough of Southwark held a cabinet committee meeting last night (20/10/2020). One of the items on the agenda (Item 8) for discussion was petitions that have been submitted about the road closures in Dulwich. There were two petitions considered – the first one which collected 2,475 signatures asked for the immediate removal of the road closures while the second one which supported the closures received 29 signatures. One would have thought that was a pretty conclusive view of public opinion in Dulwich.

Councillor Catherine Rose who is responsible for “Leisure, Environment and Roads” spoke in support of the closures. Her speech was full of platitudes about the need to tackle climate change and reduce air pollution.

The problem that the closures of roads such as Burbage will prevent east-west travel in Dulwich and divert traffic onto the South Circular is being ignored. Businesses in Dulwich village are clearly being adversely affected. It seems unlikely that the closures will be removed soon, if ever.

Item 22 on the agenda was consideration of a report on Air Quality and the recommendations therein. These include:

A – The roll-out of a School Streets programme (i.e. timed road closures near schools).

B – To “drive down” total private vehicle usage by 2030 so that only a few electric vehicles remain.

C – To lobby for expansion of the ULEZ not just to the South Circular but wider – as far as the M25.

D – To increase the cost of car parking, and reduce parking provision by 50%.

E – To implement Low Traffic Neighbourhoods borough wide.

F – To lobby for the introduction of road user charging by the GLA.

These measures, if adopted, will mean the death of the use of motor vehicles in Southwark. Southwark is of course a large borough which stretches from central London to Dulwich in the south. Some parts are much better covered by public transport than others. The needs of those who rely on motor vehicles, or the preferences of those who live in the wealthier parts of the borough are simply being ignored. Those people too old to cycle or walk far are advised to leave the borough, sooner or later.

It is in summary a good example of the extremism that is now pervading the councils of some London boroughs.

You can watch the Cabinet Meeting on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/user/southwarkcouncil

Or read the agenda and supporting documents here: http://moderngov.southwark.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=302&MId=6663

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Does Closing Roads Reduce Air Pollution and Improve Health?

The Alliance of British Drivers has long argued that there is way too much scaremongering about the impact on people’s health of air pollution. We published a paper two years ago (see Reference 1 below) that in summary said that we believe it is not a major health crisis but simply a major health scare fed to a gullible public by a few politicians and by journalists wanting a story. We also criticised the relative contribution of vehicles to existing air pollution. Most air pollution arises from home and office heating, building and industrial activities and from home activities such as cooking and smoking.

Is there actually a public health crisis? The simple answer is NO. The evidence does not support such claims. In reality air quality has been steadily improving and will continue to do so from technical improvements to heating and vehicles. Meanwhile life expectancy has been increasing. There is no public health crisis!

The Covid-19 epidemic has given a great opportunity to see the likely impact of removing cars and other vehicles from the roads as businesses closed down and home working spread like wildfire.

The Daily Mail (see Reference 2) has reported on a study by Stirling University with the headlines: “Decline in vehicle use in lockdown had no impact on reducing toxic particle emissions and suggests traffic is ‘not a key contributor to air pollution” and “It found no significant fall in harmful toxic particulate matter – known as PM2.5” based on roadside measurements. That was despite a 65% fall in traffic.

Particulates are more dangerous than NOX and as people spent more time at home, they may have increased their exposure to them. But it is clear that removing vehicles from the roads does not cut particulate emissions.  Although NO2 levels fell, which mainly come from transport, the Mail article suggests that might cut attributable deaths but in reality there is no certainty about the impact of NOX emissions on life expectancy and it may be a totally spurious claim.

The ABD also recently debunked the alleged claim linking asthma to NOX emissions. There are a number of possible causes for asthma and very poor air conditions (worse than generally experienced) can trigger or exacerbate attacks, but one has to be very careful about a specific linkage – see Reference 3.

Life expectancy data tells us that there is no air pollution health crisis – see another article published by the ABD in Reference 4. But London boroughs such as Lewisham argue we have to remove vehicles from our streets as a matter of urgency – see Reference 5 for Lewisham air quality data.

A lot of published data on air quality and sources of air pollution are out of date as road transport has rapidly changed as vehicles are replaced. Less than 50% of air pollution in London now comes from vehicles and stopping private cars will have minimal impact as most vehicle emissions come from buses and goods vehicles.

Another problem is that much of London’s air pollution blows in from outside the metropolis. According to London Councils (see the report in Reference 6), 75% of particulates actually originate from elsewhere.

In summary, closing roads to reduce vehicles in London generally, and in boroughs such as Lewisham specifically, based on a claimed need to reduce vehicle emission makes no sense at the present time. The recent epidemic impact when vehicles were much reduced shows that there was nil or minimal impact on air quality so it would be a pointless exercise.

In reality the Low Traffic Neighbourhoods introduced in boroughs such as Lewisham has diverted traffic onto main roads and created more traffic congestion. It also means longer routes have to be driven and traffic piles up on residential roads (see photo of Horncastle Road above). Overall air quality has surely been made worse as is clear from residents’ comments on the impact. These “experiments” to cut traffic should be abandoned now!

Reference 1: Air Quality and Vehicles – The Truth: https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/Air-Quality-and-Vehicles-The-Truth.pdf

Reference 2: Daily Mail article: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/money/cars/article-8710499/Decline-vehicle-journeys-lockdown-did-NOT-reduce-emissions-toxic-particles.html

Reference 3: Epidemiological Fallacy on Asthma and Nitrogen Dioxide: https://www.abd.org.uk/press-release-scare-pollution-the-latest-epidemiological-fallacy-on-asthma-and-nitrogen-dioxide/

Reference 4: Life expectancy data: https://www.abd.org.uk/life-expectancy-data-no-air-pollution-health-crisis/

Refence 5: Lewisham air quality data:  https://lewisham.gov.uk/myservices/environment/air-pollution/read-our-air-quality-action-plan-and-other-reports

Reference 6: London Council’s Report “Demystifying Air Pollution in London”: https://www.londoncouncils.gov.uk/node/33224

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Road Closures Culture War

The Daily Telegraph covered the alleged “culture war” caused by road closures in Islington today. The article said: “The leader of Islington council, Richard Watts, hit back at suggestions that the road closure plans were ‘anti-working class’, writing on Twitter: ‘Car ownership in inner-London is linked to income. The richer you are, the more likely you are to own a car. The truth is we’re stopping affluent people polluting working class communities’.

Eliska Finlay, who lives in Crystal Palace, where further demonstrations have been taking place, claimed that the changes have led to a ‘culture war. People are being singled out and targeted for having cars’, the 45-year-old mother of two said”.

It’s certainly true that most of the local councils that are closing roads, as opposed to just putting in over Covid-19 measures such as widening pavements and installing cycle lanes, are left-wing, Labour dominated councils.

Are Labour councillors attacking wealthy car owners indirectly by closing roads?  Perhaps but in reality they are often attacking their own electorate because it’s not just the wealthy who drive vehicles. In Lewisham for instance it’s about 50% of households who own a car and if you walk the streets of Lewisham as I have done, you won’t find many expensive vehicles. Road closures attack workers such as plumbers plus other service occupations, and social service workers who need vehicles to quickly get around the people they help. They also attack delivery drivers who deliver the goods we need, often to people undertaking self-isolation at present.

Richard Watts is surely just rationalising a view that all vehicles should be banned and turning Islington into a ghetto of poor people and the healthy young who can cycle because even the middle classes won’t want to live there as vehicles are so essential for so many purposes. That’s unless you want to be restricted to short walking and cycling distances or using public transport and have no incapacities.

If you actually look at air quality in Islington, the minor roads only contribute 6% of NOX emissions, whereas 20% comes from gas boilers. Buses and coaches also contribute 38% whereas cars only contribute 28% (source: Islington Air Quality Strategy 2019-2023). One could argue that it is the public transport users who are polluting the most!

We surely need to have less divisive politics which can cope with the needs and preferences of more than just one segment of the population.

Roger Lawson

The Telegraph article is here: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/08/11/coronavirus-road-closurescreating-culture-war-residents-warn/

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ULEZ – The Latest Information Including Poor Financial Outcome

The London Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) is currently suspended due to the coronavirus epidemic. This enables key workers to get to work without taking the risk of taking the still crowded public transport. This is a wise move by Sadiq Khan but it will create yet another hole in his TfL budget.

However, the plans for the expansion of the ULEZ to the North/South Circular in October 2021 are still proceeding. One of our supporters has recently submitted a Freedom of Information Act request and obtained some more useful information. I highlight the interesting points:

  1. The scheme is likely to be enforced in the same way as the existing ULEZ and Congestion Charge, i.e. via cameras, both fixed and mobile ones. A map showing where the boundary will be is present here: http://lruc.content.tfl.gov.uk/ulez-boundary-2021-map-local-detail.pdf
  1. But one concession is that vehicles parked, but which don’t move within the zone, and which are non-compliant won’t incur any penalty. However, there are very large numbers of cars parked on roads within the enlarged zone that are only used occasionally. But as the current ULEZ operates all day, every day, their owners will find themselves paying £12.50 for virtually every vehicle movement (the daily charge).
  1. The expected operating income of the expanded ULEZ for 2021/2022 is £160-£170 million with operating costs of £100-£110 million, i.e. a profit of perhaps £60 million. But the infrastructure set-up costs are forecast to be up to £120 million so it will be at least two years before those costs are even recovered, i.e. by 2024.

Note: in reality by 2024 the vehicle fleet will have changed considerably so the level of emissions will by then have reduced very significantly and few vehicles will be non-compliant thus substantially reducing the income from the scheme. For example the chart below shows the NOX emissions that were originally forecast by TfL, with and without the ULEZ. By 2030 there is no benefit from the ULEZ at all.  This means that this is yet another financial mistake the Mayor is going to make if the scheme is implemented as planned.

ULEZ NOx reduction-web

However, it seems that more detailed design of the scheme is still being undertaken so perhaps Mayor Sadiq Khan and TfL management are having second thoughts. They would be wise to do so as TfL are already running a massive deficit with debts rising. That was before the decline in public transport income from bus and underground fares that will have been badly hit by the epidemic plus the suspension of the ULEZ, LEZ and Congestion Charge.

It would be simply madness to proceed with the ULEZ expansion based on what we now know. But the Mayor is now so desperate for money that he might increase the proposed charge, expand the zone even further, or class even more vehicles as “non-compliant”.  That should go down well in the 2021 election year!

Note that the above financial figures are much worse than the last numbers we reported in January 2019 on our blog. There will be a very substantial amount of cash taken out of the London economy from the ULEZ taxes. This  will hardly help the economic health of the city, when it might still be recovering from the severe recession that is predicted from the virus epidemic. In addition, there may be a cost to Londoners of over £200 million from having to upgrade to compliant vehicles.

In conclusion, the expansion of the ULEZ makes no sense. A very expensive project that will not have much impact on air pollution.

See this page of our web site for more information: https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/environment.htm

Roger Lawson

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Bromley Air Quality

Scadbury Park

There is a lot of public concern over air quality in London despite the fact that there is very little evidence that it actually shortens lifespans or has significant other medical effects. I have covered that evidence in previous articles.

However it was interesting to read Bromley Council’s Air Quality Action Plan 2020-2025 which has recently been published (see Reference below). It gives some very useful data on air emissions and the sources in an outer London borough.

Bromley is the largest London borough by land area, with the sixth largest population. It also has very high levels of car ownership but they claim to be the “greenest” borough with large levels of open space including many parks, Chislehurst Commons, National Trust land and green belt land in the outer areas. A photo of Scadbury Park is above.

Bromley does meet all the national air quality objectives for particulate matter but there are still concerns about particulate matter and NO2 emissions, particularly in local areas such as near main roads and the borough wards closer to central London. The report indicates a large proportion of such emissions come from road transport – for example 60% for NOX. Within that 60%, petrol and diesel cars account for 29%, buses for 9.6%, and LGVs and HGVs for 19.8%.

Discouraging diesel cars might help as they produce three times more NOx than petrol vehicles in total, but NOX levels “are predicted to decrease rapidly between 2020 and 2025” the report says. This is mainly due to technological improvements and the vehicle fleet being updated with newer vehicles, even a few zero emission ones.

The recommendations for action in the report cover a number of points. That includes more monitoring, reducing emissions from new buildings and construction plant/vehicles, raising public awareness of the issues, reducing emissions from transport and local initiatives such as more trees/greening. But the council points out that it has little control over major roads (those managed by TfL) and of course over London buses which are major sources of pollution.

In summary, this is a reasonably balanced and sensible report, unlike some of the hysteria over the subject displayed in some London boroughs. It’s a report well worth reading. In conclusion for those residents of London who are really concerned over air pollution, they might wish to consider moving to Bromley, or elsewhere in the country.

Incidentally with the very low traffic levels from the epidemic crisis one would expect the air pollution to fall dramatically. But a recent report from Germany suggests this is not happening. It will be interesting to see more data in due course. But perhaps it is because HGVs, LGVs and trains are still running.

Reference 1: Bromley Council’s Air Quality Action Plan: https://tinyurl.com/sel57ro

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Climate Assemblies Exposed As Platforms For Extremists

The ABD has issued the following press release:

Croydon Citizens’ Climate Assembly wants totalitarian kangaroo climate courts for net zero non-believers. At first it seemed like the LTT article (1) on the London Borough of Croydon Citizens’ Climate Assembly Report was an April Fool joke, but the actual report (2) does contain the following on page 5:

“People who fail to support the law of net zero greenhouse gas emissions should be identified and penalised. We want the majority of socially responsible residents supported and recognised for contributions they make. We also want to see those who let us down identified and penalised.”

It appears that Croydon Council wish to introduce some “thought police” as in George Orwell’s novel to tell us what we should believe.

ABD Environment Spokesman Paul Biggs said: “UK Net Zero policy should be scrutinised by all voters via a proper democratic process including a full cost-benefit analysis (3) rather than by a selected few overseen by biased advisors, which include Extinction Rebellion. In a free and democratic society people are entitled to hold their own views and make their own travel and lifestyle decisions. It’s ridiculous that a supposedly Conservative government is pandering to environmental extremists by supporting the setting up of assemblies dominated by extremists to advise on decisions that will negatively impact the economy and our lifestyles when there is not likely to be any beneficial impact on global CO2 emissions, weather or climate.”

Ends

Notes for Editors

(1) Local Transport Today: Punish people who don’t back net zero: https://www.transportxtra.com/publications/local-transport-today/news/65037/-punish-people-who-don-t-back-net-zero-

(2) Croydon Citizens’ Assembly on Climate Change Report:  https://democracy.croydon.gov.uk/documents/s21475/Appendix%201%20Final%20report%20on%20Citizens%20Assembly%20on%20Climate%20Change.pdf

(3) Petition: Hold a referendum to scrap the UK’s policy of Net Zero CO2 by 2050   https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/300316

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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Decarbonising Transport – A Costly Exercise in Limiting Personal Freedom

Decarbonising Transport Cover

Grant Shapps, Government Transport Minister, has recently published a document entitled “Decarbonising Transport” (see Reference 1 below). From the cover photograph (see above), it suggests that the Government expects us all to travel by electric buses in future with not a private car in sight.

That is actually the agenda spelled out in the document. It follows from the adopted Government policy of achieving net zero greenhouse gases (GHG) by 2050, despite that fact that many people think this is financial lunacy and simply unaffordable. That’s even if you believe that removing all CO2 emissions is essential to stop global warming which is a very dubious proposition anyway.

The document spells out that “Public transport and active travel will be the natural first choice for our daily activities. We will use our cars less and be able to rely on a convenient, cost-effective and coherent public transport network”. If only the latter were true!

Public transport is inherently inconvenient. It never arrives at your doorstep and if it is raining you will get wet walking to the nearest bus stop or train station. You will also get cold in winter waiting for the next bus or train, and may be uncertain when or if it will arrive – public transport is never as reliable as your own vehicle. But the Government is intending to “persuade” you to change your lifestyle.

It also contains this wonderful sentence “Clean, place-based solutions will meet the needs of local people. Changes and leadership at a local level will make an important contribution to reducing national GHG emissions”. What exactly does that mean and what practical measures is it suggesting. This writer has no idea.

It also states that “all road vehicles will be zero emission” and also says “technological advances, including new modes of transport and mobility innovation, will change the way vehicles are used”. Is it suggesting we will all be using electric scooters in future or what?

The Government is developing a Transport Decarbonisation Plan (TDP) which will set out in detail what will need to be done and will be published in Autumn 2020 – the Government is clearly rushing ahead on this policy. The document already published does give a lot of information on the sources of GHG emissions in the UK and the trends in size.

Transport has remained remarkably stubborn to change whereas many other sources such as energy production have fallen in the last few years. Transport is now the largest contributor at 28% of emissions. But cars/taxis emissions have fallen while HGVs and Vans have increased – the latter have grown by 67% since 1990 on more than double mileage. Emissions from cars are projected to fall by 52% by 2050 due to the increased use of electric vehicles. The private motorist is doing what the Government requires however misconceived and expensive it may be.

Meanwhile emissions from international aviation have more than doubled since 1990 and were still increasing prior to the virus epidemic. They might soon exceed emissions from cars. There is no short-term way of cutting aircraft emissions so they are allowed to buy “indulgences” just like in medieval times for their sins. In this case that means purchasing carbon offsets or planting trees under the CORSIA scheme.

The Government is spending billions of pounds on encouraging us to walk and cycle, mainly via local authority schemes. You can see the impact of this in London which had had similar policies and lots of funding since the current Mayor was elected. It has been a very negative outcome with modal shift hardly perceptible except where people are forced to comply by closing roads, restricting parking and other similar measures.

The document highlights that 79% of domestic freight is carried by roads, 13% by water and 9% by rail – the latter two mainly carrying heavy, bulk cargoes. But GHG emissions from HGVs have been rising driven partly by decreasing fuel efficiency. New lower emission targets for HGVs have been set to tackle this problem but the future projections do not indicate a rapid fall. The Government suggests that electric cargo bikes are the answer for local deliveries.

In summary the Government is keen to promote modal shift in the public, whether you like it or not. This is yet another attack on the private car which the ABD has consistently opposed because it is in essence irrational and unnecessary.

You can share your views on decarbonising transport, register for regular updates on the progress of the Transport Decarbonisation Plan and register your interest for the workshops by emailing TDP@dft.gov.uk as well as by following @transportgovuk on twitter.

Please send the Government your views before this nonsense goes too far.

Reference 1: Decarbonising Transport: https://tinyurl.com/s2ohyd9

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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