Welsh Government plans to reduce vehicle emissions and pollution actually risk making it worse, motoring organisations warned today.
Welsh Government and councils are taking a shortsighted approach to tackling airborne pollution with the proposed new lower M4 speed limit and toxic-tax for urban areas.
That’s the view of AA President Edmund King who said,“ In all our surveys more than 80% of drivers are concerned about air quality. It is an important issue that must be addressed.
“We believe the most effective way is to target the 10% of gross polluters which tend to cause 50% of the problem. These tend to be older trucks, busses, taxis and badly serviced cars.”
The strategy should not be about demonising all diesels as the newer Euro 6 diesels are relatively clean and can still be the best environmental option for long distance drivers in Wales.
“If speed limits are to be reduced on parts of the M4 in Wales it should be a flexible system that varies speeds and is inked to air quality monitoring so the speed limits are only reduced when air quality levels are exceeded,” he said.
“We also believe that the air quality problems spread beyond transport in Wales and that steel and heavy industry are also responsible for adverse air quality.
“We would also like to see schemes that further encourage the uptake of low emissions vehicles rather than just see the more blanket introduction of bans or Low mission Zone T (toxic) charges or indeed further demonization of diesels.”
The RAC said it was also in agreement with Clean Air Zones but questioned the Welsh Government plan and said it could actually make the situation worse.
RAC head of roads policy Nicholas Lyes said, “Air quality clearly needs to be improved, but it’s questionable whether reducing the speed limit to 50mph on two stretches of the M4 in Wales which are regularly subject to major jams is likely to make a difference to harmful nitrogen dioxide levels.
“Slowing down traffic can help to improve flow, but if there are simply too many vehicles for the road space, then jams are still likely to occur so this is as much a question of capacity as anything else. The issue affecting these two areas, which are both close to urban areas, must be solved in the long term not just temporarily, if indeed the speed limit reduction has the desired effect.”
He added, “A website indicating air quality in local areas is extremely positive news, but consideration should be given to extending these to electronic roadside signs so motorists are made aware of air quality issues where they actually occur. Increasing awareness among motorists of this problem will help to change behaviour.
“The RAC is supportive of anti-idling measures which encourage drivers to switch off their engines or engage stop-start technology as this is a relatively simple solution to immediate improve air quality. We would encourage Welsh authorities to adopt such measures.”