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Fuel tax campaigners fear financial hit for diesel drivers

Diesel drivers in the UK should not be financially penalised because of a “knee-jerk reaction” to the recent VW emissions scandal, according to FairFuelUK

Diesel drivers in the UK should not be financially penalised because of a “knee-jerk reaction” to the recent VW emissions scandal, according to campaign group FairFuelUK.

TV presenter and motoring journalist Quentin Wilson helps lead the FairFuelUK campaign group

TV presenter and motoring journalist Quentin Wilson helps lead the FairFuelUK campaign group

Led by motoring journalist and television presenter Quentin Wilson, the protest group – which claims to have fought off £30 billion in fuel tax hikes over the last five years and to have 1.1 million supporters – is warning against higher rates of fuel duty for diesel drivers.

Mr Wilson said this week (October 11) he had been “hearing rumours in Westminster that the Treasury could be considering higher Vehicle Excise Duty rates, a purchase tax on used diesel vehicles, a 1p rise in duty and even an increase in VAT on diesel”.

FairFuelUK is therefore calling for a “measured, practical and well-informed response to the issues related to diesel emissions, the VW saga and its undoubted impact on the economy”.

Mr Wilson said: “The UK’s 15 million diesel drivers shouldn’t be financially penalised because of a knee-jerk reaction to the recent VW emissions scandal.

“This could cause used diesel car and van values to collapse and add millions in extra costs to families and businesses across the country.”

Instead, FairFuelUK is calling for:

  • an older diesel scrappage scheme to incentivise the switch to petrol, hybrid or electric
  • The creation of an independent data bank of the emissions content of all diesel cars and vans, new and old, which can be easily accessed by consumers.
  • An enquiry into the reasons why modern Diesel Particulate Filters have a high failure and blockage rate.
  • “Much better” research into the health risks and toxicity of diesel emission

And, in what the campaign group describes as the “largest ever survey of UK driver opinion” covering motoring issues “that impact on daily lives and the economy – which is due to be published next month – it was reportedly found that 61% of FairFuelUK supporters believe there should be a government-led incentivised scrappage scheme for older diesel engines.

Howard Cox, co-founder of FairFuelUK, said: “This week we will be writing to all MPs and asking where they are positioned on the future of diesel taxation. We welcome the Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin’s timely comment that protecting UK consumer interests in the wake of the VW debacle is very important, but there’s a great danger that diesel hysteria could get out of control.

“There’s far too much misinformation in the press and this government needs to reassure businesses and drivers that they won’t face financial hardship for choosing diesel cars and vans. Clean air in our town and cities is an urgent priority but we can’t fix this overnight with draconian taxation levels. Reducing diesel emissions is something that must happen but needs reasoned and informed debate.”

Transport Minister Mr McLoughlin told a committee of MPs this week that he was “satisfied” that only Volkswagen and no other car manufacturers had been deliberately attempting to manipulate emissions tests (see AirQualityNews.com story).

Europe

Also this week, meanwhile, EU motor industry body the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) warned that more stringent diesel emissions testing – a new EU procedure based on real world driving which is currently pencilled in for 2017 – could make some diesel vehicles “effectively unaffordable”.

ACEA said it agrees with the need for emissions testing to more accurately reflect real world conditions and “has been calling for the proposals for years”.

However, it said that the introduction of a new procedure should be a two-step, staggered approach with a timeline and testing conditions that “take into account the technical and economic realities of today’s markets, allowing for reasonable transition time to apply RDE to all new vehicles”.

ACEA said that without a realistic timeframes and conditions for RDE testing introduction, manufacturers would be forced to remove diesel cars from sale, which could have repercussions on consumer choice and also on unemployment.

Erik Jonnaert, ACEA secretary general, said: “It is important to proceed in a way which allows manufacturers to plan and implement the necessary changes, without jeopardising the role of diesel as one of the key pillars for fulfilling future CO2 targets.”

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