More worries about diesels

Some good points have been made about diesels and air quality, and I am receiving constituents emails arguing against new penalties on owners of modern diesel cars.

One of the best points made is we need to take into account the amount of use made of various categories of dirtier vehicle. A typical privately owned passenger car spends most of its time parked. A motorist who averages 8000 miles a year, and averages 25 mph through a mixture of open road and congested town driving uses the vehicle for just 13 24 hour days or 26 12 hour days equivalent. A public service vehicle like a bus may well operate for more than ten times that amount of time, over 260 12 hour days a year. That means we will get a far bigger saving of dirty exhaust if we replace the old bus than the old car. The same is also true for many diesel trains that operate long hours, and for diesel delivery vans and lorries.

It is also important to recognise that congestion and delay cause far more pollution than allowing vehicles to make optimal progress at decent cruising speeds when the engine is not labouring, is in an economical gear, and not having to stop and start. This argues for the adoption of more policies that can reduce congestion, as have often been discussed here. Improving  junctions is central to this. Parking more of the cars that are  not in use off the highway is also an important aim, as often parked vehicles cause congestion and delay through straddling the highway.

Someone pointed out that vehicles often do not achieve the test specifications on emissions. This is because actual drive cycles are often different from test cycles. The more the vehicles have to slow down and speed up, and sit in traffic, the worse the emissions performance is likely to be. Older vehicles do not have cut outs at traffic light and other stops. Trains often keep their diesel engines running whilst waiting for considerable periods of time at terminus stations and to adjust service times. These are matters which newer vehicles and engines can help address.


A  clumsy new tax is not the answer. Cutting emissions requires much detailed work on driving needs and conditions, road space and junctions, and ages of different types of vehicle. It is certainly important for the state to start by tackling public service vehicles, as they do so many more miles than the private car.

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  1. Lifelogic
    Posted April 16, 2017 at 5:51 am | Permalink


    The policy of government for many years has been to deter car use by taxation, deliberately blocking the roads with bus lanes, anti car light phasing, “environmental” areas, bus stops that project into the road and preventing sufficient off road parking and the likes. Then using cash cow cameras to mug them. They left kept saying if we build more roads they with just encourage more people to use them! Yes indeed use them to get to work, do their jobs and for leisure and what is wrong with that?

    With self drive vehicles & taxis slowly on the way what is needed is more road space so that people can get efficiently from A to B to C to D with their family or goods for work or leasure.

    If one really has to deter vehicles it should be by intelligent electronic charging of them by distance travelled and time of use, not by deliberately causing congestion (and thus more polution and wasted unproductive time) for them. The cost of congestion is massive if you deter by charging the money can be used to build more bridges, roads, underpasses and overpasses. Congestion just costs people.

    Road works are also carried out with almost complete contempt for the road users as (as with the virutal state monopolies of schools and the NHS) they have paid already. They just get what they are given or usually not given. Often they block a road but do not even adjust the phasing of lights that all that traffic then is divered on to. Many traffic lights in cities even work better (for traffic flow) when they out of order and off! They are clearly intentionally designed to congest!

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 16, 2017 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

      Taxes are never the answer to anything be they new, old, clumsy or nimble.

      “I am in favor of cutting taxes under any circumstances and for any excuse, for any reason, whenever it’s possible. – Milton Friedman.

      The UK is so absurdly over taxed that it is more than possible absulutely everywhere!

  2. Leslie Singleton
    Posted April 16, 2017 at 5:54 am | Permalink

    Dear John–Re the replacing of the old bus versus the old car I see no reason to regard this as any kind of choice because obviously we need to do both and different considerations and difficulties apply. I especially liked what I read about retro-fitting electric engines to diesel buses, if only because doing that involves no angst for private diesel car owners who bought in good faith after Government encouragement. But diesel cars have to go too and there we can make it up in volume.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 16, 2017 at 9:31 am | Permalink

      You need very big, very expensive and very heavy batteries for electric busses to get any real range. Not very practical with current very expensive battery technology. Gas buses, with some regenerative braking (electric or compressed air) are perhaps the best cleanish option currently.

      • Richard1
        Posted April 16, 2017 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

        Not true there is an excellent technology available for retrofitting disel double deckers with hybrids using banks of lithium ion batteries. It is a cheap way of reducing both costs and emissions and is sensibly being rolled out as I understand.

      • Leslie Singleton
        Posted April 16, 2017 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

        Dear Lifelogic–How “very” is “very”? City buses don’t need much range and with no polluting ghastly exhaust at all I reckon we should do whatever is needed, including shorter ranges if that is what it takes, to make the electric-engined bus a runner especially in highly polluted areas like Central London. Plus I never quite grasped what was so wrong with trolley buses, which were all over the place in my youth. But let not the best be the enemy of the good, and gas buses, perhaps more for longer journeys, don’t sound all bad.

        • miami.mode
          Posted April 17, 2017 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

          Unfortunately trolley buses are hostage to their wires, but on your point about Central London, on the odd occasion when I have seen TV commentators doing a live broadcast from outside the Bank of England outside of the rush hour the passing buses seem to have very few passengers on them.

          • Leslie Singleton
            Posted April 17, 2017 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

            Dear Miami–I am no lover of buses, indeed would be scared to get on one as I wouldn’t know what to do, but while they are chugging around and likely to continue to do so, I repeat, even if of course they won’t suit everywhere, I have never heard anything that makes sense against trolley buses. Maybe their name is off-putting, few knowing what the “trolley” is all about.

      • Iain Gill
        Posted April 16, 2017 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

        A lot of the Borris buses in London, built as hybrids with electric motors and engines, are now running around with no batteries in them and relying completely on the undersized engines (the engines were sized expecting to have boost from the motors at times of peak need).

        Like car hybrids the real problem is the amount of pollution created where the batteries are make and disposed of, which is a massive problem. Looking at emissions without considering those battery manufacturing and disposal pollution issues is a big mistake.

        • hefner
          Posted April 19, 2017 at 7:28 am | Permalink

          Sorry Iain, but you just talk uninformed rubbish. Look on the web for “well to wheels” energy budget of electric cars (from the building of the car, of the battery, to its use (including the electric power generation) to its recycling). There are a number of studies ( and not from environmental groups) which completely disprove your comment.
          Where are you talking out from?

      • getahead
        Posted April 16, 2017 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

        Time to have another look at hydrogen?

        • Robert Christopher
          Posted April 17, 2017 at 11:30 am | Permalink

          Hydrogen leaks out of most containers, H2 molecules are VERY small, and it makes many metals very fragile, which would cause safety problems. And then there is the problem of supplying the energy to make the hydrogen in the first place and to put it into a small, safe, space. Why not use Methane or Octane, straight from the well?
          So many proposals can be knocked down with a knowledge of A level Physics, Chemistry and Maths, with a bit of knowledge and Common Sense, it is a pity that there isn’t a booklet on the subject.

      • hefner
        Posted April 16, 2017 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

        LiFePO4 batteries, anyone? 2019-20 appears to be advertised for the big development of electric buses.
        For an engineer, you seem to be particularly clueless.

    • Jerry
      Posted April 16, 2017 at 10:08 am | Permalink

      @Leslie Singleton; Do we need to do both, or do we just need to have a measure of reality here, there is today far less pollution than there was 10 years ago, ever mind 50 plus. This whole issue is being used by some as an excuse to impose yet another Stealth Tax – remember the original idea wasn’t to have another ‘scrapage scheme’ to replace older vehicles with less polluting, but a daily tax on their use.

      Also you can’t just retro-fit electric engines an motor to diesel buses in place of its diesel engine and primary transmission, you also need to retrofit all the control equipment, you’ll need to provide another means of heating, then you also need to find space to accommodate the traction batteries etc. – if we must have electric buses then perhaps we just need to bite the bullet so to speak and reinvent the trolley bus, that would remove the need for on-board traction batteries at least.

      • Richard1
        Posted April 17, 2017 at 7:06 am | Permalink

        You are wrong here, such retrofitting is possible and does work.

        • Jerry
          Posted April 17, 2017 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

          @Richard1; Can you cite a fleet of buses that have successfully had this conversion (we’ll ignore the economics of the conversion for the moment), if not why not?

        • Jerry
          Posted April 17, 2017 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

          @Richard1; Industry is littered with examples of conversions and rebuilds where something should have worked, even were the (basic) technology had already been proven but when it came to convert pre-existing production hardware into an updated design the rebuild turned out less than successful or total failures – and even when a success, after the inevitable teething problems, it would often have been cheaper to have just built new.

          Even when changes are needed at the advanced design stage it is sometimes cheaper to just start the design process afresh otherwise the chances are component-packages are put into less than optimal locations etc.

  3. David Cockburn
    Posted April 16, 2017 at 6:05 am | Permalink

    You raise very important points which illustrate why a per-vehicle tax is inefficient. Generally however the amount of pollution is proportionate to the amount and type of fuel used.A higher tax on fuel and on diesel would raise money that could be used to pay for those improved roads.

    • eeyore
      Posted April 16, 2017 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

      Pollution, though the subject of this discussion, has to be considered in the context of fuel efficiency, as a cleaner but less efficient power source will burn more fuel for a given output and may produce more pollutants overall.

      Vehicle power plants score badly. Diesel engines are about 30% efficient, petrol engines about 15% (but the gap is shrinking). Combustion engines generally struggle to get over 35%. A hydrogen fuel cell may achieve up to 60%.

      Heating plants do much better. A modern gas boiler is about 80%. However, so is the humble wood-burning stove, which is also carbon-neutral and 100% tax-efficient too.

  4. Forester126
    Posted April 16, 2017 at 6:24 am | Permalink

    Converting Buses, lorries and vans to run on natural gas would be a much more effective way of reduced emissions. A good reason to get on with fracking and producing our own natural gas.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 16, 2017 at 9:32 am | Permalink

      Indeed. What are we dithering for?

      • Jerry
        Posted April 16, 2017 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

        @LL; Safe and efficient storage of the LPG I suspect. Also to run a diesel engine on LPG requires a lot more, and perhaps fundamental, conversion work than running a petrol engine on LPG that requires very little. There is also the issue of the safe storage of the LPG. Assuming we get efficient (or at least acceptable) mpg from the LPG when converting Buses and lorries, not at all certain, there is at least usually space for the bulk of an LPG tank, the same can not be said of the average light goods vehicle of 5 tonne and below.

        Then of course, outside of the fleet operators who can bulk store their own fuel, for the wider use of LPG there would need to be a massive investment (rebuilding) at ‘high street’ fuel outlets to accommodate LPG sales.

        • Jerry
          Posted April 17, 2017 at 6:59 am | Permalink

          Sorry, the @Forester126 talked of natural gas, not LPG, although similar storage issues would still apply.

        • Mark
          Posted April 17, 2017 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

          The volumes of LPG that are available from gas and oil production and refining are quite limited compared to motor fuel use. There are already markets for it not only as heating fuel, but as chemical feedstock. Butane is commonly used as a blending component in petrol, where its good octane properties help with components made by cracking the diesel fraction, and its volatility helps with starting in cold weather.

      • APL
        Posted April 18, 2017 at 8:25 am | Permalink

        Lifelogic: “What are we dithering for?”

        Unnecessary cost for almost nil economic gain ( in proportion to the pollutants fed into the atmosphere from other sources).

  5. eeyore
    Posted April 16, 2017 at 6:53 am | Permalink

    In the breakdown of London polluters by percentage which JR supplied the other day we saw that fully half comes from just two sources: domestic gas heating and public transport (including air travel). Just 11 per cent comes from private diesel cars.

    Mrs May might instruct an expendable Minister to tell people to turn their heating down a bit and wear thicker pullovers. While about it, he or she might also announce that the true cost of clean-up will be added to the price of air and bus tickets.

    Then we won’t need new taxes which harass and dismay diesel car drivers to gain merely marginal advantage.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 16, 2017 at 9:42 am | Permalink

      People do have their houses far too hot for my tastes. My wife always wants it rather hotter than I like it. Perhaps it is programmed into her Italian genes!

      • eeyore
        Posted April 16, 2017 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

        If you turn your heating down to 55F (13C) you burn up no end of food calories just keeping warm. That was room temperature in the days before central heating, as many an old thermometer tells us.

        No obesity problem then. Eat what you like, save money and save the planet too.

        • Jerry
          Posted April 17, 2017 at 7:07 am | Permalink

          @eeyore; “No obesity problem then. Eat what you like, save money and save the planet too.”

          Local (in season) food was also the norm, most likely hauled from farm to retail outlet by horse & cart, but for non local foods there was still -what you might call today- a massive carbon footprint from transporting it around the country and further, be that coal, early diesel lorries or ships using heavy fuel oils to fire their boilers.

      • Jerry
        Posted April 16, 2017 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

        @LL; Your point being what exactly. Do you not understand why heating systems have thermostats and what they are used for?!…

        What temperature someone chooses to have their homes is irrelevant, assuming they use their thermostat(s) correctly, at least after the initial period of heating.

        • Leslie Singleton
          Posted April 17, 2017 at 7:34 am | Permalink

          Dear Jerry–So the heat loss is not proportional to, or at least heavily dependent on, the difference between thermostat and outside? I forget my Thermodynamics but I venture to doubt it.

          • Jerry
            Posted April 17, 2017 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

            @Leslie Singleton; Never heard of insulation?!

  6. Forester126
    Posted April 16, 2017 at 6:55 am | Permalink

    A British company is developing the technology for diesel engines to mainly run on natural gas. Clean Air power Ltd. Partly developed by Brunel university and Queens university, Belfast.

    • APL
      Posted April 16, 2017 at 9:59 am | Permalink

      Forester126: “A British company is developing the technology for diesel engines to mainly run on natural gas.”

      Why would they do that?

      A diesel engine is supposedly much more green, it doesn’t actually need diesel fuel, it can run a variety of fuels. Waste vegetable oil for example.

      In theory you could plant a crop of rape seed harvest and extract the oil then feed it into your diesel engine. The diesel engine is essentially ‘green’ and renewable.

      Feeding natural gas into it – kind of defeats the purpose of a diesel engine. you might as well put a gas turbine engine into your car. The gas turbine is probably lighter than a diesel engine and more energy efficient.

      • Jerry
        Posted April 17, 2017 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

        APL; “A diesel engine is supposedly much more green, it doesn’t actually need diesel fuel, it can run a variety of fuels. Waste vegetable oil for example.”

        Indeed, but at a very high maintenance/repair cost, quite a few people have written off their car or van diesel engines (or the most expensive part of it) by running it on waste vegetable oil.

        “The gas turbine is probably lighter than a diesel engine and more energy efficient.”

        The Rover Car Co. of the 1950s thought differently. Google “Rover Jet1”, although gas turbine design has moved on I doubt any of the reasons why it was found untranslatable for automotive use have changed.

        Most modern diesel engines, as installed into private cars, are not much heavier than their petrol counterparts, and that has been the case for the last 30 years.

        • APL
          Posted April 18, 2017 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

          Jerry: “but at a very high maintenance/repair cost, quite a few people have written off their car or van diesel engines ”

          Not in dispute.

          The issue is not what someone chooses to do with his or her own property.

          It’s why you’d try to run a diesel engine on a fuel of lower calorific value and at some considerable additional cost.

          What little reading I’ve done on it implies the supposed savings of the conversion would take at least two years to recoup.

          You’ve then got the inconvenience of having to find somewhere to refuel the vehicle.

          It all seems an expensive unnecessary waste of time and money to me.

    • APL
      Posted April 16, 2017 at 10:03 am | Permalink

      There must be a good reason to do this, as there is already commercial solutions out there addressing just this issue.

      In which case, I’d like to know, why are Queens & Brunell using tax payers money to reinvent this particular wheel?

    • Mark
      Posted April 16, 2017 at 11:47 am | Permalink

      That’s fine for replacing diesel STOR electricity generation (a low number of operating hours per year anyway), but it is not practicable for vehicles that travel any distance: CNG has about a quarter the energy density per unit volume of diesel, and needs rather more robust tanks that weigh more. I found an interesting study that compared CNG and diesel buses, which concluded that solving the NOx problem via CNG results in rather higher emissions of CO2 and carbon monoxide (definitely poisonous, but not clear how much risk those emissions pose in practice). Some gain, some pain.

  7. Anonymous
    Posted April 16, 2017 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    Public service vehicles also carry very more people than the private car, it should be remembered. So their pollution output should be weighed per passenger mile, not per vehicle mile.

    It costs a lot to scrap a public service vehicle before its time, in both money and in environmental resources. Trains cost many millions and buses hundreds of thousands.

    • APL
      Posted April 16, 2017 at 9:02 am | Permalink

      Anon: “Public service vehicles also carry very more people than the private car, ”

      Not necessarily true.

      In peak traffic times maybe. But any other time of day they are mostly empty.

      • Anonymous
        Posted April 16, 2017 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

        Compare one bus with one car and my statement is indisputable.

        • APL
          Posted April 17, 2017 at 7:03 am | Permalink

          Anon: “Compare one bus with one car and my statement is indisputable.”

          You have a perverse concept of the term ‘indisputable’.

          The PSV may have the capacity to carry more people, but outside peak times, they are mostly running around empty.

          That is expending fuel to transport a large hunk of steel, glass and rubber around, simply to run a schedule which hardly any passengers wish to use.

          A car by contrast is several orders of magnitude lighter than a bus, and even if only the driver is in it, is like the bus transporting one individual. ( in the case of the bus, just to run the bus service )

          It follows the bus with one driver is less efficient than a car with only the driver.

          • Anonymous
            Posted April 17, 2017 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

            Not true.

            A double decker carrying 72 passengers for several peak hours a shift (making it average even a mere tenth of its capacity for the rest of the day) is better than most cars.

        • APL
          Posted April 18, 2017 at 7:37 am | Permalink

          Anon: “is better than most cars.”

          So far all we’ve got is your assurance that your assertion is true. Not really good enough, I’m afraid.

          Secondly. ‘Most cars’ are not driving around for ten or twelve hours a day, like a bus is. ‘Most cars’ are driven to work, laid up for the next seven hours and driven home from work again.

      • Jerry
        Posted April 16, 2017 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

        @APL; But outside of peak traffic times there are far fewer PSV’s on the road. The point @Anonymous is making still stands.

        • APL
          Posted April 17, 2017 at 6:56 am | Permalink

          Jerry: “But outside of peak traffic times there are far fewer PSV’s on the road.”

          PSVs are still running their schedules, just empty.

          • Jerry
            Posted April 17, 2017 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

            @APL; Utter nonsense. The majority do not, otherwise the omnibus company’s accountants would soon telling the board that they need to call in PWC or who ever!…

        • APL
          Posted April 18, 2017 at 7:41 am | Permalink

          Jerry: “The majority do not, otherwise the omnibus company’s accountants would soon telling the board ..”

          Your comments, Jerry are pretty much self refuting. There maybe private bus services that are managing to make a profit. But the municipal services, they are subsidised and don’t.

          If people were to pay the true cost of their bus journey, they’d most likely choose either to run their own car, carshare or take a taxi.

          • APL
            Posted April 18, 2017 at 7:52 am | Permalink

            As far as I can make out, and for example. Transport for London ( with a captive clientelle of 6m or so ) made a net operating profit of £978m last year.

            Of which there were roughly £3bn in Local authority grants and payments.

            Without which, TfL would be £2Bn or so in the hole.

          • Jerry
            Posted April 18, 2017 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

            @APL; Sorry but you really do not have a first clue about the whys and wherefores of subsidised public transport. Even ‘standing room only’ bus and train services often need subsidised.

            “If people were to pay the true cost of their bus journey, they’d most likely choose either to run their own car, carshare or take a taxi.”

            No, they would either stay and home or walk, the grid lock making it far safer to cross those previously busy roads!

          • APL
            Posted April 19, 2017 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

            Jerry: “you really do not have a first clue about the whys and wherefores of subsidised public transport.”

            Irrelevant. But at least you don’t deny that many bus services are heavily subsidised.

            And you Jerry clearly don’t understand market clearing. But that to one side.

            Jerry: “The majority do not, otherwise the omnibus company’s accountants would soon telling the board ..”

            And your prior assertion is too, wrong.

            Only because the Omnibus company gets government subsidy, do the accountants not have to call in the receiver.

          • Jerry
            Posted April 20, 2017 at 7:13 am | Permalink

            @APL; What did you not understand about my last paragraph;

            “No, they would either stay and home or walk, the grid lock making it far safer to cross those previously busy roads!”

            Your utter hatred of public transport is seemingly so great that you appear to think grid-lock is a price worth paying, even though it would adversely affect the UK’s GDP, costing the country far more than the subsidises you deride.

            You lack of a first clue is thus far from “irrelevant”.

          • APL
            Posted April 25, 2017 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

            Jerry: “What did you not understand about my last paragraph”?

            It was incomprehensible?

            Jerry: “Your utter hatred of public transport is seemingly so great ”

            Stop projecting Jerry.

            To address your ridiculous accusation, I don’t ‘hate’ public transport, I use it frequently. I do recognise it is undesirable to run loss making service that has to be subsidised at the public expense.

            Doing so, conceals the true cost of the service, and obfuscates from the buying public, market signals that would allow the public to make an informed buying choice.

    • Forester126
      Posted April 16, 2017 at 9:33 am | Permalink

      Sorry that should have been

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 16, 2017 at 9:37 am | Permalink

      Far more passenger miles are done by car than buses and trains. Average occupancy of a large bus, depot to depot over the whole day can often be very low indeed often low single figures. They also take longer indirect routes and need staff. Often rather less efficient than door to door and direct cars.

      • Anonymous
        Posted April 16, 2017 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

        Lifelogic – Instead of your opinion let’s have a proper calculation.

        Passenger miles – not vehicle miles – is the way to do this.

        A diesel car’s emissions will higher than a bus per passenger, if all you want is my opinion.

        • David Price
          Posted April 17, 2017 at 7:45 am | Permalink

          According to the DoT Transport Statistics Great Britain 2016 passenger kilometers by car, vans and taxis (658b) far exceeds passenger kilometers by bus (39b) – see page 2 “passenger kilometres by mode” or data in tsgb0101. So LLs comment is correct.

          To get to Wokingham by public transport I first have to go in to Reading so a third of those kilometers with the attendant pollution and over a third of my time are utterly wasted compared to a car journey. I suggest this wasted time and travel with public transport is likely quite common but is not accommodated in any transport data I’ve seen.

          A bus with one passenger generates more pollution per passenger km than a full bus so you should probably use occupancy qualified vehicle km then apply an adjustment to reflect wasted travel when comparing with personal transport.

          • APL
            Posted April 17, 2017 at 7:19 pm | Permalink

            David Price: “I suggest this wasted time and travel with public transport is likely quite common ”

            Of course it is, Buses go the most circuitous route in order to pick up passengers or service ‘out of the way’ locations. Frequently, and from a time or distance travelled point of view, you’d be better going by car or Taxi.

            David Price: “but is not accommodated in any transport data I’ve seen.”

            Wonder why that would be?

          • Jerry
            Posted April 17, 2017 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

            @David Price; But how much time not miles, with engine running, do those cars, vans and taxis spend stuck in stop-start slow moving traffic (causing the worse pollution), that is the time you need to measure, not that fact that you need to leave home an hour earlier if using PT because you need to change transport modes and wait for connections etc.

            Passenger miles is largely irrelevant.

          • Anonymous
            Posted April 17, 2017 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

            David Price: I am sure that more people travel by car than they do by bus.


            There are far more cars than there are buses.

            You miss my point.

            A bus will carry far more passengers per shift than a car will.

            How many cars does a bus weigh ? Five ? Six ???

            Six passengers per six cars vs hundreds of passengers per one bus.

            Reply Most buses travel with very few passengers.

          • Anonymous
            Posted April 17, 2017 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

            Per Lifelogic, David Price and APL:

            Get rid of all public transport and force everyone to use cars.

            The party that puts that in its manifesto dies, so it’s not happening. You’re wasting your breath.

          • APL
            Posted April 19, 2017 at 10:47 am | Permalink

            Anon: “Get rid of all public transport and force everyone to use cars.”

            An argument no one is putting forward.

  8. Prigger
    Posted April 16, 2017 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    The problem is not diesel.

    When a man works on a North Sea oil rig platform you expect him to make monthly or quarterly helicopter trips. Others, not military or police having helicopter trips are harder to explain. So too the hundreds of thousands of commuters making long distance trips in or on diesel vehicles when their work or rather skills are not particularly specialised nor grounded to a particular location.
    Because socialism or top-down organisation does not work is no excuse for kidding ourselves that captilast organisation works when Blaise Pascal invented and ran the first bus service in 1662 and we still can’t get the hang of it.

  9. Prigger
    Posted April 16, 2017 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    When the world has to state incorrectly a North Korean missile failed just to save the face of the Leader of the Free World it is time to get that nit out of the White House before he does any more damage.

    • Mark
      Posted April 16, 2017 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

      I think you are confusing two stories. The Chinese Xinhua agency originally reported in English that the North Koreans had fired a missile rather than simply displayed it at their anniversary parade yesterday – a story that was initially taken up by Bloomberg, before establishing that Xinhua had made a translation error, and withdrawing the story:

      Later, North Korea apparently did conduct a failed missile launch that has been widely reported:

    • Anonymous
      Posted April 16, 2017 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

      He does come across as being way out of his depth.

      The fact is that the reasoned Conservative alternative has been banned by media and the celebrity/political establishment.

      Thatcher/Reagan/Redwood/Tebbit have been deemed too ‘extreme’ and Mrs May killed Conservatism with the ‘nasty party’ speech.

      So now we have oversteer and Trump and Brexit is what you get. Shock-jock politicians are the only ones that can beat off the blob and who thrive on R4 type sneer.

      Sad as it is.

      • Jerry
        Posted April 17, 2017 at 7:15 am | Permalink

        @Anonymous; Mrs May only said publicly what the majority of the adult population already thought, how else do you account for Labour and Mr Blair winning three elections on the trot – two of them when the Conservatives had Thatcherite leaders.

        Only your idea of Conservatism has failed, and yes your denial of the obvious is sad…

    • Jerry
      Posted April 16, 2017 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

      @Prigger; Well if the North Korean missile did not fail we will soon see proof via North Korean TV, won’t we…

  10. Richard1
    Posted April 16, 2017 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    Absolutely right. The Govt should think very carefully about new taxes, we have far too many already. An immediate place to start is retrofitting routemasters with hybrid electric engines, which Siddiq Khan, sensibly, appears to support. Much more thought needs to be given to tearing up roads to create cycle lanes etc. Cambridge for example sees traffic crawl at a snails pace and is thus much polluted than it needs to be

  11. acorn
    Posted April 16, 2017 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    It shouldn’t amaze me, but it does, how little MP’S know about what’s going on outside of Punch & Judy Westminster. The government has had another of its “penny packet” funds; called the “Clean Bus Technology Fund” since 2013. Local Government has to beg, “market” style, for it as usual.

    If we had a government that actually led from the front, we could have a a national diesel exhaust retrofit programme. The technology already exists; a national framework contract to supply and fit, could be negotiated with the preferred technology patent holders. Other States can do it, but not the UK.

    Alas, and again, a Labour Mayor of London is taking a political opportunity to stick it up a Conservative government. ‘Now I urge the Government to step up and match my ambition to transform the appalling air we breathe …”

    As always, the problem is Westminster. We need a much better management system for the UK, otherwise we are going to be dead in the water, when / if Brexit actually happens.

  12. alan jutson
    Posted April 16, 2017 at 8:17 am | Permalink

    Absolutely no point in scrapping a perfectly usable older car for a new one, which uses a huge amount of energy and resorces to produce.

    Spare a thought for those people who cannot afford to purchase new cars and the depreciation that goes with them.

    All these different and complicated rates for car tax when the simple thing is to increase the tax on fuel and scrap all vehicle excise duty, so those who travel the most, pay the most.

    • cornishstu
      Posted April 16, 2017 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

      Exactly! if you look at the tax bands and emissions they bear no relation to overall output you could have someone on the bottom band paying £10 producing more due to the mileage covered than someone paying £2000 in the top band

    • A.Sedgwick
      Posted April 17, 2017 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

      Scrapping vehicle excise duty for extra fuel tax has been talked about for decades, it falls into the same blindingly obvious category as combining N.I. and Income Tax.

  13. A.Sedgwick
    Posted April 16, 2017 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    More sanity from our host.

    I read a scrappage scheme could be post code selective, another simplistic approach. Many people on retirement buy a car for life and do not want a credit note against a new car, which they may not want to or can afford.

    As you say usage is critical with transport pollution assessment, penalising commuting drivers smacks of more tax grabbing and greens bashing working people.

    • bigneil
      Posted April 16, 2017 at 10:57 am | Permalink

      “Many people on retirement”

      If the government would speak honestly they would like to see all the ( working class ) people who retire, drop dead instantly. No pension to pay out ( after working for decades), no further NHS costs, no bed blocking, no care home fees for councils to pay out etc etc – and freeing up plenty of housing, made available to put our constant tsunami of migrants in. Of course, people who went to university and people who came from well-off families would be exempt and able to live out their retirement – until the govt wanted yet more money and housing – because the tsunami won’t have been stopped.

  14. alan jutson
    Posted April 16, 2017 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    Road tax and all other so called green taxes are only in place to raise finance for the Government no other reason, its a pure and simple money grab.

    As soon as manufacturers, get the majority of their products to meet the new standards, the government moves the goalposts or the rates.

    • Anonymous
      Posted April 16, 2017 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

      Yes. During fuel price hikes I recall drivers travelling fewer miles and the Government bemoaning the fall in revenue – so proposing tax rises elsewhere, on VEL if I recall.

  15. APL
    Posted April 16, 2017 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    Happy Easter Mr Redwood.

  16. Bert Young
    Posted April 16, 2017 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    I switched to a Golf diesel about 8 years ago ; since then it has done 35,000 miles . It has been “fiixed” by a VW dealership and , I am told , now complies with all emission regulations . It has a Particulate Filter – something that prevents noxious fumes reaching the atmosphere , however , short journeys are out of the question because the engine temperature needs to be “normal” for emissions to be controlled . I would never buy another diesel car for this reason .

    Economy of use was the prime reason behind my purchase plus the encouragement from the powers that be to switch to diesel . I feel cheated and let down by VW and the Government . If diesel car owners are pushed to get rid of their car , then adequate compensation ought to be paid . As far as VW are concerned they are not showing any willingness to treat their customers as they have in the USA . I feel that pressure from our Government ought to make VW cough up instead of the action of a group of private individuals .

    • Know-Dice
      Posted April 16, 2017 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

      Bert, you have hit the nail on the head there…diesel engines are more efficient than petrol, but need to get up to correct operating temperature to take advantage of this.

      I used to run a Munich made 3 litre diesel and that took at least 10 miles to get up to temperature in the summer. In the winter it even had a diesel powered auxiliary heater to help get up to temperature quicker.

      Were people “mis-sold” this?
      Should everybody else pick-up the bill for this?

      To me its like PPI where everybody else is subsidising those that took out PPI products 🙁

    • APL
      Posted April 17, 2017 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

      Bert Young: “If diesel car owners are pushed to get rid of their car , then adequate compensation ought to be paid ..”

      Firstly, the car industry have spent billions on developing and improving diesel engines, they did this under the instruction or encouragement of government.

      That investment outlay, was paid for by motor vehicle purchasers. Perhaps even government incentives or encouragement.

      Now the government has reversed ( or is trying to ) but guess who is going to pay out again!!

      It’s time we had a method to surcharge or penalize politicians that put these, frankly stupid schemes into place.

  17. oldtimer
    Posted April 16, 2017 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    You say “Someone pointed out that vehicles often do not achieve the test specifications on emissions. This is because actual drive cycles are often different from test cycles.”

    How true. I would go further and suggest they are always different from the test cycles. I have an app on my current vehicle (a Discovery Sport) that tracks each journey I make, recording time, distance, fuel economy and even displays the route from start to finish. A good result, over 96 miles produced c46 mpg; a poor result over c1.5 miles produced c21 mpg. The latter is typical of the 21-26 mpg result achieved in stop start city or town driving conditions. My car has the Adblue system which reduces Nox emissions significantly; even so I am sure it does better on a motorway run than in a town which is where the problem lies. In London the solution rests substantially in the Mayor’s hands as TFL is under his control. He should start there and deal with his own fleet of vehicles first.

  18. English Pensioner
    Posted April 16, 2017 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    I am very suspicious about taxes by local authorities. They have one object in mind, to raise money, and often has little to do with their avowed objective.
    Typical example is some street parking was made “pay and display” to “relieve congestion”. Previously the parking was for one hour maximum, now you can have up to four hours if you pay. How does this relieve congestion? It’s a pure money making exercise.
    Any congestion or pollution charge will be the same, a handy way of making money.

  19. NHSGP
    Posted April 16, 2017 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    Ban buses. Publically owned we are forced to subsidize them.

    When politicians don’t act as hypocrites, things will change.

    Health and Safety should just say they are illegal.

    • behindthefrogs
      Posted April 16, 2017 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

      You ignore the fact that there are many people who totally rely on buses to get around.

      • rose
        Posted April 17, 2017 at 9:38 am | Permalink

        I am all in favour of the bus pass too. It encourages old people to get out and about, using their faculties, and thus keeping them independent and healthier for longer; it discourages them from short-sighted, slower reactions etc driving, thus making it safer for everyone else; and it reduces the number of cars on the roads. I don’t expect LL to agree!

        • APL
          Posted April 19, 2017 at 10:54 am | Permalink

          rose: “and it reduces the number of cars on the roads.”

          It does of course increase the congestion too, since buses tend to be slow moving frequently stop and the new innovation, a bus stop which juts out completely obstructing one lane of the highway, means the bus blocks the other ( assuming two lane traffic each direction ) and causes other road traffic to be held up any time the bus stops to pick up or drop off passengers.

          A deliberate stratagem of the planners and presumably an attempt to make buses appear a more attractive mode of transport.

  20. JM
    Posted April 16, 2017 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    10 years ago we were all encouraged to buy diesel cars to save the planet. Now we are the Great Satan threatening the health of our present fellow man, even if we are still saving the planet. We are told the answer is electric cars notwithstanding that we do not have sufficient generating capacity to meet our present needs. How can we be sure that in 10 years time those of us who have an electric car will not be hit with a new tax to cover the cost of disposal of our deadly toxic batteries?

    • fedupsoutherner
      Posted April 16, 2017 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

      All these wind turbines and electric car batteries need rare earth minerals in their production. At the moment great swathes of land in China is being used to provide this and is wreaking havoc with local people where the land has been rendered toxic and people are dying from illnesses related to this mining. Now I see they have found similar minerals below the sea but it means mining and dragging vast areas of land beneath the sea to extract it. How is this any better than using fossil fuels and just how expensive will this be in terms of the economy and lives? Everything we do to ‘save the planet’ destroys it but nobody seems to care as long as they are making a quick buck. We have to accept that in a modern society not everything will be coming up roses but from what I can see this whole ‘green’ mess is nothing but green except if you look a the colour of money.

      • miami.mode
        Posted April 17, 2017 at 9:30 am | Permalink


        Totally agree with you on China. If we had to mine these minerals in the UK then it’s doubtful we would proceed on health or economic grounds, but as long as we are rich enough to sub-contract the dirty work elsewhere then that’s what we will do, and our governments will bask in the glory of “doing the right thing”.

  21. Christine
    Posted April 16, 2017 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    Commuting is a recent phenomenon. People used to work near where they lived. Go back to having local jobs instead of this constant drive to move them to the cities. Government policy of moving their jobs from the towns to the cities is a prime example. This would help with the grid lock on roads that we now experience and cut down on pollution.

  22. Tad Davison
    Posted April 16, 2017 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    I just went back over what was said by Quentin Wilson on Newsnight (3rd April), and he says 260 buses an hour drive down London’s Oxford Street, and 15 of the largest ships churn out more dangerous pollutants than all the cars on the planet. And as the head of a major campaign group, I am fairly confident his research is accurate.

    It is also said that 73% of all the pollutants come from commercial plant machinery and things like wood-burning stoves.

    Whatever, I know this much for sure. My eldest daughter wants to sell her 61 plate Mazda 3 2.2 litre Diesel Sport – a car that has very good economy as well as rapid acceleration and practicality, yet it looks as though she’s going to have to take a massive hit running into well over a grand because of all the negative publicity diesel cars now get. Taken across the entire nation, that would represent a massive loss. And I bet the exchequer doesn’t want to make good those losses!

    Tad Davison


    • Robert Christopher
      Posted April 17, 2017 at 11:47 am | Permalink

      ‘more dangerous pollutants’

      More dangerous-pollutants or more-dangerous pollutants’, and does that include CO2 (aka carbon 🙂 )?

      I hope not.

  23. margaret
    Posted April 16, 2017 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    I remember in Manchester, and I am told of other places also, when all our state places were ruined in the NHS and we were put out to agencies to start or expand their businesses. Every day we travelled miles to get work from one county to another in our private cars getting lost , using gallons of petrol daily . No one could get posts at their local hospitals as immigrants poured in to take local jobs. I wrote many letters to NHS organisations and the local MP expressing the madness of sending our own staff all over the country finding work as directed by agencies and using fuel as though it was inexhaustible. Private cars used far too much fuel unnecessarily. No one was remotely interested.
    Private cars are also used, often in bad condition , due to low pay for district Nurses who drive around the streets daily and nightly . This is an area which could be looked at more closely. Some Nurses are travelling 20 miles simple to put an eye drop in; four times a day. !

    • Anonymous
      Posted April 16, 2017 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

      The other issue is patients being sent home with stitches in after operations. It used to be that they stayed in until fully recovered.

      This is a huge saving on the NHS the slack taken up by district nurses. It is they who should have the subsidised cars – not the work shy.

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted April 16, 2017 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

      Dear Margaret–I am with you on the need to reduce minor driving back and forth and all over the place–If anybody wants some thinking outside the box I wonder if we could find a way to ensure that each village had a combined C0-op type shop and Post Office, such as the luckier ones have, not to mention a pub. This could be expanded: these days I am forced to drive 20 miles return each day from my (bare) village to Tesco to shop, not to mention to have my bacon roll and espresso doppio in its symbiotic Coffee Shop. Buses near me are a (privately-run) absolute joke. Till recently (when I asked my son to take one–for the first, and hopefully last, time) I hadn’t realised that it was possible for a scheduled bus simply not to show. I wish I had my complaint phone call on tape–the idea of a prospective passenger’s needing to rely on the service (scheduled in the Parish Magazine no less) seemed alien to the nice lady’s understanding. The Parish Council is apparently scared to make a fuss as, I was authoritatively told, the private service might simply close. How I would have got to school and back yonks ago. I have no idea.

      • Leslie Singleton
        Posted April 18, 2017 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

        Dear John–Eh?–What’s wrong with the above that it should have been not published??

    • margaret
      Posted April 16, 2017 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

      correction;- The grammar incubus awaits my comment and changes it in mid air where he thinks it is night and cannot be seen.

      ‘businesses we lived a nightmare. Every day …

      travelling 20 miles simply…..

  24. rose
    Posted April 16, 2017 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    “A clumsy new tax is not the answer.”

    This applies across the board.

    In our city the worst offenders are indeed buses, vans, and lorries, though not all. Some 4x4s have filthy smelling exhaust. Some vans are clean, like TNT, and we have 2 “virtual” electric buses which use GPS systems to ensure they run in completely electric mode once in the AQMA. We used to have a couple of gas buses but they seem to have vanished. This all shows it can be done but why, oh why, so slowly?

    • rose
      Posted April 16, 2017 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

      I meant to say, A Very Happy Easter to you, Mr Redwood.

  25. BOF
    Posted April 16, 2017 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    From your previous post
    Diesel cars 11%
    Petrol cars & motorcycles 8%

    Why is there no mention of this small difference?

    No mention of penalising petrol cars & motorcycles, only diesel cars?

    Surely this is highly discriminatory.

    • Anonymous
      Posted April 16, 2017 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

      BOF – Petrol cars already pay higher VEL and higher fuel (tax) costs.

  26. John Probert
    Posted April 16, 2017 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    The diesel has to Go, government will invest in electric vehicles
    Look at the advances in Lithium iron battery
    Tesla, BMW i3 and i8 Amazing
    And this is just the first generation

    • Anonymous
      Posted April 16, 2017 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

      As crude slumps in price and we decomission power stations, build electric HS2 and electrify the Great Western.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 16, 2017 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

      They are rolling out technology (with government subsidy) before it works properly. The advances in batteries are not yet sufficient from most people’s needs. The batteries are hugely expensive too and have a limited life.

      You do R&D get it working properly and then roll it out. Rolling with tax payer subsidy is hugely damaging to the economy. Is this too hard for government to understand?

      Batteries are not a power source anyway, they are just a fuel tank.

      A diesel car fuel tank might cost £60, store 600KWH of energy and can be refilled in one minute. A battery might store 40KWH, cost £10,000 and take 6 hours to recharge (and it has a limited useful life). There lies the poblem with current technology. But governments are rarely interest in reality too busy wasting other people’s money.

      • Anonymous
        Posted April 17, 2017 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

        Batteries are an inefficient (though convenient) way to use electricity.

  27. turboterrier
    Posted April 16, 2017 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    Take the politics out of transport and apply common sense, that should be the order of the day from Westminster.

    Michael Portillo’s travelling around America by train programme shows time and again where trams are in use in a lot of the cities. Yes there are bigger with more space but surely it is not beyond the realms of intelligence to actually start monitoring footfall and passenger loads and have a tram system that will actually encourage people to leave their car or better still do away with it when living within the city area. Not just from the airport to the city centre.

    Scotand have tried to do it and failed but how much of that was down to bad management and too much hype of over promise and under deliver?

    Mono rail systems built above the existing rail and road networks to get people into the city but leaving their vehicles on the outskirts, utilize the Thames to get large ” river buses ” to carry the critical footfall at peak times. Everything needs to be considered. As mentioned in an earlier post, gas conversions, hydrogen don’t fall into the trap of just thinking electric. Out of centre distribution hubs to reduce the HGV having to haul into the city centre then use smaller more efficient vehicles for the final few miles.

    Get behind the UK car industry and encourage them to think outside the box and submit new ideas into their existing models, they might be foreign owned but the jobs will be kept here. The government has the purchasing power to decree that only certain types of vehicles will be used in all state funded, financed and subsidiesed transport fleets. It may well encourage further investment from foreign automative companies to invest here and in our workforce. Free of the EU shackles nothing should be impossible.

  28. anon
    Posted April 16, 2017 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    How about increasing a credit (against public transport annual tickets) for those who do not lease or own “vehicles” and use public transport.

    Fuel cell trains?

  29. gyges01
    Posted April 16, 2017 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    Does anyone know the mortality rate, measured in micromorts is for diesel pollution? Without these details it is difficult to make a sensible comparison …

  30. Iain Moore
    Posted April 16, 2017 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    When you have Minsters attempting to make it illegal for Councils to charge for running events in Parks, I think you will have a problem trying to stop silly taxes being put on diesel cars. There seems to be an very un-Conservative habit developing in the May Government, that wants to interfere and tax when it would be better to things leave well alone.

  31. Iain Gill
    Posted April 16, 2017 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    Stop/Start on car engines isn’t green really. Not when you take into account all the extra wear and tear on starter motors, batteries, and turbos from all those extra start stop cycles. And all the extra wear and tear will lead to extra trips for repair to garages… garages which need heating, and staff who burn petrol to get to work, and so on. And all those extra spares like starter motors, batteries, and turbos will be made in factories which need heating, and staff who burn petrol getting into work, to say nothing of the distribution of the parts after they are made.
    It is the failure to take account of such obvious side effects of changes being made that makes the emissions regime a joke.

  32. Dennis
    Posted April 16, 2017 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    To save the planet and reduce pollution only one way – reduce the population massively which should have been started 50 or more years ago as many pointed out. Not a quick solution but should go hand in hand with other remedies.

  33. Mark
    Posted April 16, 2017 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    There are some other practical considerations concerned with refining. At present, we import significant quantities of diesel on the back of dieselisation, which has had a very dramatic effect on the share of diesel in motor fuels, as this Parliamentary report shows (chart page 13):

    We also have an export surplus of petrol. If we switch away from diesel in favour of petrol, this will unwind. A major switch might see refineries needing to make more petrol at the expense of diesel, which would increase their fuel consumption significantly, because the extra petrol would come from breaking some of the diesel fraction into smaller molecules for petrol, and it would also require more octane improvers for the petrol blend, as the cracked molecules tend to be lower octane.

    It is simply unrealistic to expect any major switch to electric vehicles. We would need to rather more than double our electricity production for that – and the power would have to come from reliable sources, as vehicles would need recharging daily – and we would need to redouble our investment in electricity distribution, digging up all the streets. Moreover, we are a long way from providing adequate range (especially in winter conditions when batteries perform poorly and there is extra demand for heating). Aside from that, batteries have a limited life, creating an environmental disposal problem, as well as greatly increasing the cost of vehicle ownership. Currently, such vehicles are heavily subsidised.

  34. ian wragg
    Posted April 16, 2017 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    By far the easiest section of society to meg is the domestic motorist. Irrespective of their 8% contribution to NOX they can be taxed out of existence to save the planet.
    The battery driven cars available even the claimed high mileage Teslas are useless on a cold winter night if you have to have the heating and lights on. I believe the claimed 240 mile range reduces to about 100 which makes them useless for commuting any distance.
    Then of course as someone has mentioned, in about 10 years there will be a punitive tax on battery disposal. The motorist will always be a cash cow.

  35. David L
    Posted April 16, 2017 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    The other day I was driving my (petrol) car behind a local business’s flat truck up Barkham Road, and the black clouds of exhaust almost obliterated the view of the rear of the vehicle. I tried to report this online but the Dept of T only allow the reporting of HGVs or PLC’s. Looking at the history of this truck’s MoTs on the new website I could see that it had a history of excessive exhaust which failed it several times, but the owner always seemed to find a tester who’d pass it. It seems that the MoT isn’t quite as effective as it should be.

  36. Anonymous
    Posted April 16, 2017 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    Why are diesel owners likely to be offered scrappage compensation ?

    I own a petrol car and have done less damage than them, yet have had to pay more tax. I knew diesel was bad. I just knew it all along.

    • Robert Christopher
      Posted April 17, 2017 at 11:57 am | Permalink

      Is the UK getting any ‘diesel money’ off those who promoted diesel over petrol and also those involved in the VW scam, as the US are doing?

      The Science was known 40 years ago, and hasn’t changed since.

  37. Andy Marlot
    Posted April 16, 2017 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    Trouble is most local authorities idea of “improving” junctions is to build a roundabout then put traffic lights on it to ensure that for at least 50% of the time cars are sitting idling waiting for non existent cars or pedestrians instead of getting where they’re going.
    Add to that their obsession with traffic calming to ensure that they have to crawl along to avoid having their suspension torn off and you have modern roads.

  38. MikeP
    Posted April 16, 2017 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

    I sometimes wonder John how the TRL in Crowthorne spends its time and whether it is funded or even tasked to find solutions to these knotty issues. What should a better (foolproof) test be for emissions? Why has a traffic light system not yet been invented that can differentiate between roads backed up with scores of vehicles vs those with no queue at all? Why should there be any red lights when junctions are essentially traffic free outside of peak hours? Why haven’t we got more turn left filters at junctions? Why do roadworks take so long and leave us with such second rate surfaces that soon need repairs all over again? How come your own Constituency has had nearly every arterial road restricted with signal-controlled one lane traffic at roadworks over the the past 2-3 months, all overlapping rather than phased? Some or all of this may well be cost but I think it’s also about better planning and prioritisation and better technical solutions, or else we’re in danger of leaving ourselves with 3rd world infrastructure at this rate. Central and Local Government must do better !

    Reply TRL no longer operates in Crowthorne. There are smart lights with traffic sensors, and I have been urging more use of these systems. I also wish to see more left filters and segregated turning lanes at busy junctions. Roadworks do need planning by the local authority etc. Most of these issues are local road issues. We elect Councillors to supervise just these items.

    • MikeP
      Posted April 17, 2017 at 7:47 am | Permalink

      John thank you for your reply – I’m surprised you say that TRL no longer operates from Crowthorne as their website says. OK their address is Crowthorne House, Crowthorne, Wokingham but their services and expertise would seem to play well to tackle the problems the country needs for its road network if only Government (or Councils) would commission them.

  39. Mark
    Posted April 16, 2017 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    There are a lot of relevant statistics about the UK’s vehicle fleet in this publication:

    Some highlights: about 40% of cars are now diesel, with registrations split about 50/50 with petrol (other fuels are negligible in the vehicle stock). 56% of new car registrations are company cars, so company car tax and likely use affects purchase decisions, even though company cars are soon passed on in the second hand market. Some 18% of diesel cars are pre 2006, compared with 36% of petrol cars, reflecting the upsurge in diesel in more recent years. Light goods vehicles (a fast growing category – the internet shopping effect?) are now almost exclusively diesel – there are very few alternatives on the market presumably because of diesel’s large economic advantage for high mileage vehicles, and essentially none for HGVs other than buses. Buses – especially minibuses – are in decline.

    A thought: the second hand car market is quite efficient at pricing on a cost of use basis, so higher depreciation in early mid years of vehicle life offsets lower maintenance cost. A threat that vehicle life may be curtailed increases depreciation cost. If the government wants to encourage the oldest pre-particulate filter vehicles off the road, then they have to be prepared to guarantee that more recent vehicles won’t have their lives summarily shortened, which reduces resale values but also discourages owners of older vehicles to buy them second hand. Not many people buy a vehicle new and keep it until it is scrapped: most either trade in for the latest model after a few years (much as company car buyers do), or buy second hand . Providing a scrappage credit against buying a new car will not be very effective, unless dealers do a three card trick.

  40. Chris S
    Posted April 16, 2017 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

    The relative use issue is important. With older vehicles there could be a relatively simple solution :

    Taxes should be based on use. Ideally an engine hours counter would be best as that would measure the amount of time the engine is actually running. However, the government already collects mileage data for every vehicle more than three years old via the annual and compulsory MOT test.

    It would be easy to apply an additional tax surcharge on the most polluting older cars if they are used for more than a modest annual mileage.

    For private cars a flat rate surcharge could start at, say, 3,000 miles pa.
    For high polluting commercial vehicles the surcharge could ramp up substantially but starting from a higher figure.

    This would ensure older commercials would be uneconomic to operate while allowing the least affluent drivers to keep their older diesel cars as long as they are little used and thus contribute little pollution.

  41. David Murfin
    Posted April 16, 2017 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

    Re your comparison of cars and buses, I assume there are more cars than buses?

  42. Ed Mahony
    Posted April 16, 2017 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

    Prince Harry has just spoken about mental health.
    Conservatives are very bad at talking about things like this because it goes against ‘stiff upper lip.’
    But stiff upper lip is just a British form of (Italian) braggadocio. In the short-term, stiff upper lip / braggadocio can get you out of trouble, but in the long-term, both lead to all kind of long-term, mental issues leading to serious relationship problems as well as serious health problems (there is a strong connection between mental stress and heart attacks, strokes, cancer, and much more).
    All of this costs people and the state money in all sorts of ways. It leads to breakdown of family life. And it just takes away from people in general being happy and fulfilled which affects everyone, whether it be your neighbour who is unfriendly to the person who is rude to you on the train etc ..
    I think supporting Christian values more would radically improve mental health from an existential POV in our country, saving us money in terms of health, making people more effective at work overall, making people nicer in general, better at relationships, and so on.
    Although we still also need more focus on medical mental care as well.
    Again, Conservatism needs to be more holistic. Looking efficiently at charts about the economy and things like that is important, but this is only a part of what Conservatism is really about.

    • Ed Mahony
      Posted April 16, 2017 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

      ‘I think supporting Christian values more would radically improve mental health from an existential POV in our country’ – and improve mental health from an everyday / practical POV in our country as well. Plus it doesn’t cost much / or nothing at all with powerful results.

    • Ed Mahony
      Posted April 16, 2017 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

      Saying that, liberal/lefty types can be obsessed about their ‘feelings’.
      I think it’s about a healthy balance. But getting that balance is so hard, which is why Christian values are so important to help achieve that (and which our country is forgetting about more and more), as well as, to a degree, about medical mental care as well.

  43. Bob
    Posted April 17, 2017 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    Address the choke points which cause congestion
    Make adequate parking a condition for new developments
    Build adequate parking (multi storey if needed) at suburban rail stations
    Parked cars do not emit fumes
    Cut immigration to the tens of thousands (properly vetted)

  44. Ken Moore
    Posted April 17, 2017 at 11:59 pm | Permalink

    It’s a pity that the minister and Mr Kahn proposing these ‘diesel taxes’ doesn’t check the facts other than the politically correct version of reality they so adore..

    The politicians want it all ways, heavy cars that are safe but emit less CO2, similarly they wanted to promote GDI petrol and diesel but don’t like the higher emissions, they want unlimited immigration then pretend it has no impact on air quality. Now Mrs May wants to scrap perfectly serviceable diesel vehicles and waste all the energy used in their construction to achieve an unmeasurable effect on air quality. No other subject shows up the ineptitude of our politicians so well…
    Why do the people who decide these things always have to be lawyers or accountants who would struggle to wire a plug never mind have any grasp of anything engineering related..

    Motor manufacturers changed petrol engines from port injection to direct fuel injection to achieve better fuel consumption and lower CO2 emissions. These vehicles can emit MORE fine particulate matter than diesels. Is Mr Kahn going to ban these too ?.

    Also whatever new drive cycle is devised, it is very hard to model the behaviour of a large number of drivers that drive aggressively and thereby emit many times more emissions than carefully driven vehicles. Perhaps driver education is a factor or the vehicle software shouldn’t permit heavy use of the throttle when the vehicle detects it is being driven in a built up area. The technology is there but there is no incentive to deliver from the legislation.

    I recall a visit to London in the 1980’s when there were buses and taxis belching smoke on every street I was literally coughing up soot. However nobody actually dropped dead in the street so perhaps some perspective is needed before this turns into yet another hysterical ‘scare story’.

  45. JasG
    Posted April 18, 2017 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    It’s just another green-inspired moral panic based on phoney numbers. Th supposed early deaths are due to all pollution, of which 6% is diesel cars. And by ‘early’ death it is meant just a few weeks. The 40,000 number is far above the total deaths though from respiratory diseases so it is obvious piffle. As is the extremely iffy calculation of life expectancy. The fact is that the numbers are estimated from unproven models that do not include the ever-decreasing levels of overall pollution and increasing public health. Our biggest danger from vehicles remains being run over by one. None of this nuance are ever mentioned by the press or politicians.

    If we just are scrambling around trying to avoid fines from the institution we are leaving (EU) then why? We already know most of their environmentalist-inspired numbers have no scientific basis; from bees to herbicides to CO2 and diesels; the actual science done is at best ambiguous, and at worst contradictory to the endless watermelon rules.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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