Fuel duty cut for diesel cars was wrong, says ex-chief science adviser!!

The former chief scientific adviser has admitted it was wrong to cut fuel duty on diesel vehicles after being hoodwinked by the car industry, as the mayor of London launched a crackdown on vehicle pollution.

David King, who until last week served Labour and Tory governments as special representative for climate change, said he was misled by carmakers over the amount of poisonous nitrogen oxides (NOx) diesel cars would emit on the road.

The number of diesel cars sharply increased after the Labour government cut fuel duty on diesel vehicles in 2001.

Challenged about the move on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, King said on Tuesday: “It turns out we were wrong.”

He said the government at the time wanted to encourage more people to drive diesel cars because they were said to emit less carbon dioxide than petrol vehicles. He said he was aware of warnings that diesel vehicles produced more toxic nitrogen dioxide, but he and the government had wrongly assumed this could be controlled by new technology and European regulations.

“I was in very close contact with the industry that was producing these catalyst trap systems and I was convinced that they could manage the problem,” he said. “What we know now, from the Department for Transport emission results from very extensive tests of vehicles, is that a large number of diesel-driven vehicles on the road in London are emitting more than 12 times the Euro 6 limit.”

Launching plans to speed up the expansion of tougher rules on vehicle pollution, the mayor of London said car industry claims about vehicle emissions were unreliable. “Frankly, we don’t trust the manufacturers,” Sadiq Khan said. He has set up what he calls the world’s first independent motoring of vehicle emissions in a joint initiative with his counterpart in Paris.

The initiative, which will be launched in October, will rely on road rather than laboratory test figures.

Under this and other proposals, drivers of the most polluting vehicles will have to pay £12.50 to enter an ultra-low emission zone [ULEZ] in central London from April 2019, a year earlier than scheduled. The charge would apply to all vehicles, including diesel cars, by 2021, Khan said.

Khan also confirmed that by 2020 he could extend the zone London-wide for heavy goods vehicles, including buses and coaches. From October, a £10 toxicity fee inside the congestion charge zone will be introduced for petrol and diesel cars registered before 2006.