The Government has insisted that it carries no anti-diesel agenda, despite concerns from the fleet industry as a whole that the Volkswagen Group emissions scandal has started to negatively impact tax decisions.
As part of that the Autumn Statement, Chancellor George Osborne delayed removal of the 3 per cent company car diesel supplement until April 2021. The supplement was originally planned to be removed in April 2016.
The chancellor said that this was ‘in light of the slower-than-expected introduction of more rigorous EU emissions testing.’ However, a number of fleet industry experts have speculated that the VW emissions scandal influenced the decision.
Transport Minister Andrew Jones sought to try and put the VW crisis into ‘perspective’ as part of his address to delegates at the recent 2015 BVRLA industry conference.
Mr Jones said:
“The Government is not anti-diesel.”
“Diesel cars have played, and continue to play, a valuable role in reducing fuel usage and emissions of CO2.”
The UK government is currently under a lot of pressure to tackle air quality, following on from its failure to meet EU limits on NO2. The Supreme Court ordered the UK government to create a new air quality plan by the end of the year.
38 out of the UK’s 43 geographical zones are currently failing EU air quality standards.
Mr Jones said:
“Tackling air quality is a priority for the Government”.
“There are at least 29,000 early deaths each year associated with poor air quality,” he said. “This is unacceptable.
“The Government recently consulted on its air quality plans.
“A major important part of the approach is for local action on clean air zones.
“We will continue to work with DEFRA [Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs] on common standards for clean air zones.
“This is designed to give long-term certainty to the leasing and rental sector.”
Mr Jones also added that it was important for the Government to try and influence local organisations to adopt common standards, and that the government was determined to continue to invest in initiatives that helped to tackle emissions problems.
Initiatives backed included the uptake of ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs), with the government setting a target of almost every car on Britain’s roads being ULEV by the year 2050.