A Brighton peer has called on the government to use both carrot and stick to tackle the pollution caused by diesel cars.
Jenny Jones, who sits in the House of Lords as Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb, set out her case in the Financial Times today (Thursday 1 March).
The Green Party’s only peer wrote to the newspaper after it reported yesterday that two German cities had won the backing of the courts to ban diesels.
Diesels emit nitrogen dioxide (NO2) which has been blamed for causing breathing problems and early deaths.
In a letter, Baroness Jones wrote: “The ban on heavily polluting vehicles from Stuttgart and Düsseldorf has direct consequences for our equally polluted urban centres in the UK.
“The government strategy to combat air pollution relies on local authorities implementing ‘low emission zones’ in the 16 urban zones where the UK is above the European legal limits.
“These zones have to discourage the most polluting vehicles by charging them if they enter a pollution hotspot.
“The ruling in Germany clears the way for daily charges to be set so high they amount to an outright ban on older diesel vehicles.
“We all have to accept that the days of diesel vehicles are over.
“The UK government must create a billion-pound scrappage fund to encourage diesel owners on to public transport and into a new generation of electric vehicles.”
Her letter was published as members of the Brighton and Hove City Council Licensing Committee debated the age and emissions standards for replacement taxi and private hire vehicles in the area.
They hope to encourage cabbies to switch to electric cars but there is reportedly only one fully electric taxi or private hire vehicle operating in Brighton and Hove.
Air pollution has been a problem along key bus routes such as North Street, Lewes Road and London Road, with relatively narrow roads and high-fronted buildings creating a canyon effect.
Similar physical conditions and idling engines in Rottingdean High Street have also led to localised problems there.
A report last year noted: “Brighton and Hove City Council is compliant with all pollutants listed in the national Air Quality Strategy with the exception of nitrogen dioxide (NO2).
“The city first declared an ‘air quality management area’ (AQMA) for NO2 in 2004.
“The two current AQMAs for NO2 were declared in 2013.”
One of the two air quality management areas covers the centre of Brighton and Hove through to south west Portslade. The other is Rottingdean village.
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