Clean air plans could muddy the waters for car industry

UKIP transport spokesman Jill Seymour has voiced serious concerns over plans to introduce a new Clean Air Zone in Birmingham.

Mrs Seymour, a West Midlands MEP, said the city council’s new proposals would disproportionately impact drivers with relatively new cars.

She also fears it could do significant damage to the used car market across the region, and place a cloud over Jaguar Land Rover’s continued investment in diesel engine manufacturing locally.

Under the plans announced by Birmingham transport bosses, drivers of older diesel and petrol cars will face a charge of up to £10 per day to travel into the city centre from 2020.

The only vehicles to be exempt from charges would be those which meet the Euro 4 petrol standard – mostly made since 2006 – and Euro 6 diesel vehicles, mostly only dating back to 2015.

Mrs Seymour said: “We are not against the principal of clean air zones to clamp down on the worst polluting vehicles, but this scheme wants to ban many cars which have been sold less than three years ago.

“It is unfair and unreasonable to expect hard-working people to be able to simply find the money to buy another new car so soon – particularly as many of them only bought diesel on Government advice in the first place!

“Let us not forget that for the past two decades, Government policies have promoted diesel engines, as they are far more fuel efficient and release far less CO2 into the atmosphere.”

It is believed that around 200,000 vehicles a day will be affected by the Birmingham plans – with more than 45% failing to comply with the new emissions standard.

Mrs Seymour added: “I fully support the move towards zero emission vehicles and clean air in our cities, but how much damage will this do to the economy. We need a little scale and perspective introducing into this debate.”