Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Fuel Lobby Decries Air Pollution Figures and Demands Better Solutions

Private Motorist and Road Haulage Lobby Group Switches Issues
Shipping News Feature
UK – 'tis a brave man who speaks up against the proposition of any anti-pollution measures these days but FairFuel UK, which organisation had an original brief to try and reduce the cost to private motorists and road haulage operations alike by persuading governments to act on fuel duty and ramped up prices, has now moved into a considerably more contentious area.

Speaking up prior to the forthcoming DEFRA Air Quality Plan, due out before the end of July, FairFuel UK, along with the new Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Fair Fuel for Motorists and Hauliers and some other MPs, comes a call to the Minister for the Environment to focus on practical solutions, not punitive taxes in his imminent pronouncement. The accusation is that the medical facts released by environmentalist groups regarding NOx pollution from cars, trucks and buses in Britain are questionable and will cost the country trillions in transport policy and legislation changes and improve life expectancy by only a relatively tiny amount of time.

The FairFuel lobby says that the true figure for premature loss of life directly attributable to NOx pollution is between half-a-day and 3.5 hours, an argument that is likely to produce a ‘so what?’ response from the proponents of lower emissions. In the past 25,632 of the public took part in the largest survey of opinion regarding solutions they believe will be more effective in reducing emissions and improving air quality in our cities and FairFuel UK says only 11% of drivers believe the diesel debate has been fairly reported with the driver's position being truthfully represented. 12,000 supporters have emailed DEFRA calling on the Minister to not be pressurised by what they claim is unsubstantiated data.

Evidence gathered from the FairFuel UK poll this month produced the following statistics:

  1. 87% are not confident that DEFRA will be fair to drivers in their Air Quality Plan
  2. 75% of respondents do not believe evidence used by environmentalist groups in the media, that 40,000 deaths per year is in fact down to air pollution
  3. 8 out of 10 diesel owners will stay using diesel, with only 0.7% moving to electric, 3.8% hybrid and 5.1% petrol
  4. 91.5% want the Government to adopt alternative proven solutions to improving air quality in UK Cities, with only 0.07% believing tax hikes are the best option
  5. 87.7% disagree with Sadiq Khan’s Toxic Tax
  6. Nearly 7 out of 10 respondents who voted for the Green Party in the General Election also were anti London’s imminent Toxin Tax
  7. 95% do not want to see fuel duty raised on diesel drivers
  8. 70% would fine high polluters: trains, roadside construction, ground based aviation, public transport, industrial gas boilers etc.
  9. There is huge support for proven ways to reduce emissions and improve MPG instead of taxation: 82% are attracted to a hydrogen fuel additive retrofit system and a similar percentage support bioethanol already blended with petrol, to be increased from 5% to 10%.
  10. 19 out of 20 respondents want the Government to legislate for bulk fuel deliveries to garages to include a combustion catalyst that is compulsory in the State of Texas
  11. 62% want a fair scrappage scheme
  12. 93% want the Government to invest the same amount of money as HS2 into new roads across the whole of the UK to reduce congestion, improve air quality and benefit economy
  13. 75% want Government incentives for drivers to move to cleaner fuels and not by using knee jerk punitive tax hikes on diesel

Obviously this evidence comes from one side of the argument but initially, as we have pointed out, supporters of FairFuel would have been persuaded by the argument of the time i.e. the rising cost of fuel. The campaign against sweeping anti-pollution measures is supported by several cross party MP’s some of whom have quoted as follows:

Charlie Elphicke Tory MP for Dover, Vice Chair of the APPG for Fair Fuel for Motorists and Hauliers said:

“It’s clear from FairFuelUK’s detailed survey that talk of punishing diesel drivers with higher taxes is deeply unpopular. Drivers want to tackle pollution. Yet it's clear fleecing motorists with toxin taxes, higher parking charges and fuel duty is not the answer. These motorists represent thousands of families, small businesses and white van drivers up and down the land. The Government must sit up and listen to their concerns and the findings in FairFuelUK’s poll.”

Mary Glindon, Labour MP for North Tyneside, Vice Chair of the APPG for Fair Fuel for Motorists and Hauliers commented:

”The Government has dragged its heels in publishing the Air Quality Plan. I hope it's worth the wait and the Government commits to proven ways to reduce emissions and improve MPG instead of more taxation. This is certainly what the thousands of people, who contributed to the FairFuelUK's poll, want to hear from Minister Gove.”

Whilst Robert Halfon MP for Harlow, Vice Chair of the APPG for Fair Fuel for Motorists and Hauliers and Chair of E main ducation Select Committee observed:

"Why should hard pressed motorists bear the burden for mistakes made by Gordon Brown and his Government. Instead diesel car owners should be given tax breaks to replace their vehicles. Too often motorists are the easy target for tax raising enthusiasts. Enough is enough."

Last words in this side of the argument goes to FairFuel’s founder Howard Cox and lead spokesman Quentin Willson. Howard Cox commented:

“With only 11% of emissions attributed to cars, why should hard-working drivers, families, white van man and small businesses be held responsible for 89% of the issue and be asked to pay for the austerity policies of the last 7 years too, when there are other proven more effective ways to improve air quality?”

For his part Quentin Willson was even more outspoken having examined the figures in both financial and human terms and coming to the following conclusions:

“Commentators have taken a badly phrased headline figure of 40,000 deaths attributable to air pollution, from an official report and evocatively allowed it to terrify millions of consumers. If we can’t even accurately understand the numbers what hope have we to really improve our air quality? Bad science won’t help us clean our air.

”To arrive at this time figure of premature loss of life of between half-a-day and 3.5 hours directly attributable to NOx pollution all I’ve done here is look at the tables in the EEA report and check the numbers. The 40,000 figure that’s now widely reported, broadly unquestioned, across the media is because of use of the word premature.

”If we’re not careful this misunderstanding of the actual facts of NOx pollution will cost us trillions in transport policy and legislation changes and improve our life expectancy by only a relatively tiny amount of time. We absolutely need to clean our air but we need to apply real numbers and real science to this debate.”