In announcing the government plan's to tackle air pollution, especially nitrogen dioxide (NO2), Michael Gove, the UK's new environmental secretary, said, "Today’s plan sets out how we will work with local authorities to tackle the effects of roadside pollution caused by dirty diesels, in particular nitrogen dioxide".
Transport secretary, Chris Grayling, went further, stating today's plan was a "green revolution", and putting forth the government's desire to have "nearly every car and van on UK roads to be zero emission by 2050".
To that end, the British government has committed 100 million pounds ($165 million) for "new low emission buses and retrofitting older buses with cleaner engines".
This joins an earlier 600 million pound ($989 million) allocation for "the development, manufacture and use of ultra-low emission vehicles by 2020", and a 100 million pound ($165 million) investment in electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
Above: Double decker bus by Sludge G on Flickr.
According to the government, the UK is one of 17 European countries in breach of the EU's NO2 rules. A government study of 1800 major roads in the UK has determined 81 roadways, or four per cent, have excessive emissions, with 40 per cent of non-compliant roads lying outside London.
The Conservative government says "due to the highly localised nature of the problem local knowledge will be crucial in solving pollution problems in these hotspots". As such, it will require local councils to come up with solutions to fix pollution hot spots.
Initial plans are due in eight months, and final plans are due by the end of 2018. Possible solutions may include timed congestion charges, temporary vehicle bans, upgrading buses, more park and ride facilities, concessionary travel schemes, and changing road layouts and traffic controls.
The national government will provide 255 million pounds ($420 million) in assistance to local authorities to "address poor air quality in the shortest time possible".
More extensive work will be funded from a new Clean Air Fund, which the government said it would detail at a later date.
Although a "targeted scrappage scheme for car and van drivers" is currently off the table, the government will begin a consultation process in the northern autumn to discuss this and other matters.
In a move seemingly designed with the Dieselgate scandal in mind, the government is proposing new laws that would see manufacturers charged up to 50,000 pounds ($82,500) for each vehicle fitted with emissions testing cheating devices installed.
The UK government's move follows on from France's latest environmental strategy announced earlier this month. Designed to help the country meet its obligations under the Paris climate accord, France also plans on banning the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2040.
Cover image: Big Ben by marcosramanunez on Flickr.
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