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Chancellor urged to raise first year VED rate to tackle air pollution

Chancellor urged to raise first year VED rate to tackle air pollution

Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond has been urged to increase first year Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) rates so the extra costs of diesel pollution are reflected in the price of a new diesel car.

Members of the Healthy Air Campaign, which includes medical professionals, lawyers, environmental and transport groups, have written to the Chancellor asking for the change to be announced in Wednesday’s (8 March) Budge.  

Air pollution is toxic to human health, particularly young people and those suffering from lung problems, the Campaign says. It costs the country £27.5 billion a year, according to a government estimate with MPs calling air quality a “public health emergency”.

Dr Penny Woods, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation, said: “Changes to the first year VED are essential in the fight to combat toxic air. Air pollution is an invisible danger and a public health crisis. It contributes to 40,000 early deaths a year across the UK and hits hardest people with a lung condition, children and the elderly.  

“Traffic emissions are the main culprit, particularly those from diesel. Ambitious and bold national action is now needed. This means incentives, such as a revision to VED that could persuade drivers to move to cleaner vehicles.”  

The campaigners also call for money raised from the increased VED to go towards a scrappage scheme targeting low income drivers.  

The letter said: “This scheme should offer a vehicle exchange in return for help with the cost of a less polluting hybrid vehicle, a zero-emission vehicle such as electric or subsidised car club membership, free public transport season tickets or e- bike purchase loan”.

The government has been taken to court twice in recent years over its failure to tackle illegal levels of air pollution and judges have demanded the government come up with a new plan for dealing with air pollution.  

ClientEarth chief executive officer James Thornton said: “The High Court has ordered the government to take immediate action now to deal with illegal levels of pollution and prevent tens of thousands of additional early deaths in the UK. The government needs to recognise that diesel is the primary cause of the problem, and to promote a shift to alternatives. It’s perverse that our tax system encourages people to buy dirty vehicles. In his first Budget, Philip Hammond needs to change this and do what his predecessor, George Osborne failed to do, and that is to help millions of motorists to move to cleaner forms of transport.”