Islington Council rubbishes claim diesel is being ‘demonised’
PUBLISHED: 14:40 12 March 2015 | UPDATED: 14:50 12 March 2015
The town hall has defended it’s decision to charge extra for diesel parking permits from next month following a campaign from car manufacturers.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) launched a campaign last week attacking the “demonisation” of diesel and saying that more than two thirds were against penalties for Europe’s “cleanest” diesel vehicles.
All diesel owners with parking permits in Islington will be made to pay £96 extra a year from next month apart from black cab drivers and others eligible for exemption.
Islington Council say the changes have to be made, with nitrogen oxides released predominantly by diesel vehicles playing a part in 100 deaths in the borough each year.
But the SMMT have produced what they call a “myth busting guide” stating that the latest “Euro 6” standard vehicles are much cleaner than their predecessors.
Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, “Today’s diesel engines are the cleanest ever, and the culmination of billions of pounds of investment by manufacturers to improve air quality.
“Bans and parking taxes on diesel vehicles therefore make no sense from an environmental point of view. We need to avoid penalising one vehicle technology over another and instead encourage the uptake of the latest low emission vehicles by consumers.
“The allegations against diesel cars made in recent months threaten to misguide policy making and undermine public confidence in diesel. It’s time to put the record straight.”
The campaign has been backed by the likes of BMW and Ford, but environmental experts and Islington Council remain adamant that all diesel vehicles are seriously harmful to those living in urban areas.
Cllr Claudia Webbe, Islington Council’s executive member for environment and transport, said: “We don’t believe there are any clean diesels, not that have been created yet.
“We’re commited to tackling air quality and they’re proven to produce nitrogen oxide which can cause heart and lung diseases, major causes of serious and long-term health issues in Islington.
“Independent tests of the new Euro 6 vehicles show that they omit seven times more nitrogen oxide in the urban environment than the industry’s own tests suggest.”
SMMT also point out that the contribution of diesel vehicles is not the main cause of nitrogen oxide in the UK, with all the Euro 6 diesels on the road only contributing a quarter of the pollution of one coal power station.
However, Cllr Webbe said that as there were no power station in Islington this was not relevant to the local problem.
“The reality is we’ve got a very clear reason for the surcharge. To get people to change their vehicles away from diesel.
“This isn’t something where we can act tomorrow, the impact on long term health in terms of people dying means we must act now.”
More than 9,000 residents could be effected by the surcharge which comes in next month and only the second in London – charging residents five times more than a similar policy put in place by Kensington in Chelsea council.