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UK unveils new plan to cut NO2; sale of new conventional gasoline and diesel cars to end by 2040; focus on local action

The UK Government unveiled its new plan to reduce roadside nitrogen dioxide (NO2) concentrations in the shortest amount of time. Among the many policy and funding details in the UK Plan for Tackling Roadside Nitrogen Dioxide Concentrations, produced by Defra and the Department for Transport is the cessation of the sale of all new conventional gasoline and diesel cars by 2040. Another element in the plan includes possible civil and criminal charges against manufacturers implementing emissions defeat devices, with fines of up to £50,000 (US$65,000) per instance.

The NO2 plan is one element in the Government’s efforts to deliver clean air. In 2018, the Government will publish a comprehensive Clean Air Strategy which will address other sources of air pollution. Air quality in the UK has been improving significantly in recent decades, with reductions in emissions of all of the key pollutants, and NO2 levels down by half in the last 15 years. Despite this, an analysis of more than 1,800 major roads show that a small number of these—81 or 4%—are due to breach legal pollution limits for NO2, with 33 of these outside of London.

Under existing legislation, the annual average concentration of NO2 in the air must be no higher than 40 μg/m3 across a calendar year in every assessed location in each of the 43 air quality reporting zones of the UK. Additionally, an hourly average concentration over 200 μg/m3 must not be reached more than 18 times in a year. The UK assesses air quality, as well as legal compliance with these obligations, via a combination of monitoring data and modeling. National estimation of background concentrations produces a result for each 1km grid square and each of 9,000 major road links in the UK, which are used to assess compliance.

The estimated number of the 43 air quality reporting zones projected to be non-compliant without further action. The improving trend is caused by the expected benefits to air quality of stricter emission standards in new vehicles as they replace older, poorer performing vehicles. Source: UK plan for tackling roadside NO2. Click to enlarge.

The UK had announced in 2011 its intention that conventional car and van sales would end by 2040, and for almost every car and van on the road to be a zero emission vehicle by 2050.

The plan outlines how local areas with the worst levels of air pollution at busy road junctions and hotspots must take robust action. To accelerate action local areas will be asked to produce initial plans within eight months and final plans by the end of next year.

Unlike greenhouse gases, the risk from NO2 is focused in particular places: it is the build-up of pollution in a particular area that increases the concentration in the air and the associated risks. So intervention needs to be targeted to problem areas, fewer than 100 major roads which national modelling suggests will continue to have air pollution problems in 2021, mostly in cities and towns. The effort to reduce NO2 also needs to be targeted on the sources that make the biggest contribution to the problem: road vehicles contribute about 80% of NO2 pollution at the roadside and growth in the number of diesel cars has exacerbated this problem.

—UK plan for tackling roadside nitrogen dioxide

The Government will help towns and cities by providing £255 million (US$333 million) to implement their plans, in addition to the £2.7 billion (US$3.5 billion) already being invested.

Breakdown of the £2.7 billion already being invested
  • £1.2B – Cycling and walking. In April 2017, the UK Government published its Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy which identifies £1.2 billion which may be invested in cycling and walking from 2016-2021.

  • £1B – Ultra low emissions vehicles. This includes investing nearly £100m in the UK’s charging infrastructure and funding the Plug In Car and Plug In Van Grant Schemes.

  • £290M – National Productivity Investment Fund. Reducing transport emissions which includes £100 million for new buses and retrofit, £50 million for a Plug In Taxi programme and £80 million for ULEV charging infrastructure.

  • £100M – National road network. The UK Government has allocated a ring-fenced £100 million for an Air Quality Fund available through to 2021 for Highways England to help improve air quality on its network.

  • £89M – Green Bus Fund. To help bus companies and local authorities in England to put more than 1,200 new low carbon buses on the roads.

  • £27M – Clean Bus Technology Fund and Clean Vehicle Technology Fund. To retrofit almost 3,000 of the oldest vehicles (mainly buses) including through the Clean Bus Technology Fund & Clean Vehicle Technology Fund.

  • £11M – Air Quality Grant. For local authorities to improve air quality.

Due to the highly localized nature of the problem, the Government said, local knowledge will be crucial in solving pollution problems in these hotspots. The government will require councils to produce local air quality plans which reduce nitrogen dioxide levels in the fastest possible time.

Local authorities will be able to bid for money from a new Clean Air Fund to support improvements which will reduce the need for restrictions on polluting vehicles. This could include changing road layouts, removing traffic lights and speed humps, or upgrading bus fleets.

In developing their local plans to tackle the causes of air pollution, local authorities should consider a wide range of innovative options, exploring new technologies and seeking to support the government’s industrial strategy so that they can deliver reduced emissions in a way that best meets the needs of their communities and local businesses. Their plans could include a wide range of measures such as: changing road layouts at congestion and air pollution pinch points; encouraging public and private uptake of ULEVs; using innovative retrofitting technologies and new fuels; and, encouraging the use of public transport.

If these measures are not sufficient, local plans could include access restrictions on vehicles, such as charging zones or measures to prevent certain vehicles using particular roads at particular times. However, local authorities should bear in mind such access restrictions would only be necessary for a limited period and should be lifted once legal compliance is achieved and there is no risk of legal limits being breached again.

—UK plan for tackling roadside nitrogen dioxide

Air pollution continues to have an unnecessary and avoidable impact on people’s health and evidence shows that poor air quality is the largest environmental risk to public health in the UK, costing the country up to £2.7 billion (US$3.5 billion) in lost productivity in 2012.

The UK is one of 17 EU countries breaching annual targets for nitrogen dioxide, a problem which has been made worse by the failure of the European testing regime for vehicle emissions, the Government said.

The government will also issue a consultation in the autumn to gather views on measures to support motorists, residents and businesses affected by local plans—such as retrofitting, subsidized car club memberships, exemptions from any vehicles restrictions, or a targeted scrappage scheme for car and van drivers.

Measures considered will need to target those most in need of support, provide strong value for the taxpayer and be resistant to fraud.

We are determined to deliver a green revolution in transport and reduce pollution in our towns and cities. We are taking bold action and want nearly every car and van on UK roads to be zero emission by 2050 which is why we’ve committed to investing more than £600 million [US$783 million] in the development, manufacture and use of ultra-low emission vehicles by 2020.

Today we commit £100 million [US$130 million] towards new low emission buses and retrofitting older buses with cleaner engines. We are also putting forward proposals for van drivers to have the right to use heavier vehicles if they are electric or gas-powered, making it easier for businesses to opt for cleaner commercial vehicles.

—Transport Secretary Chris Grayling

Local authorities will have access to a range of options to tackle poor air quality in their plans such as changing road layouts to reduce congestion, encouraging uptake of ultra-low emissions vehicles and retrofitting public transport.

If these measures are not sufficient to ensure legal compliance, local authorities may also need to consider restrictions on polluting vehicles using affected roads. This could mean preventing polluting vehicles using some of these roads at certain times of the day or introducing charging, as the Mayor of London has already announced.

The Government said thatlocal authorities should exhaust other options before opting to impose charging. Any restrictions or charging on polluting vehicles should be time-limited and lifted as soon as air pollution is within legal limits and the risk of future breaches has passed.

The Government said it will assess the plans to make sure they are effective, fair, of good value and will deliver the required improvements in air quality in the shortest time possible. If local plans do not meet that test, government will require councils to take action to achieve legal compliance.

The Government is supporting local areas to develop these plans through:

  • A £255-million implementation fund for all immediate work required to deliver plans within eight months to address poor air quality in the shortest time possible.

  • A Clean Air Fund for councils to bid for money to introduce new measures such as changing road layouts to cut congestion and reduce idling vehicles, new park and ride services, introducing concessionary travel schemes and improving bus fleets. More details will be announced later this year.

  • A £40-million [US$52 million] Clean Bus Technology Fund grant scheme—part of a £290-million [US$378 million] National Productivity Investment Fund announced in the Autumn Statement—to limit emissions from up to 2350 older buses. Government remains committed to putting the public finances back on a sustainable footing; all money spent on air quality measures will be funded through changes to the tax treatment for new diesel vehicles or through reprioritization within existing departmental budgets. Further details will be announced later this year.

Other newly announced measures include:

  • Van drivers are set to be given the right to use heavier vehicles if they are electric or gas-powered, in measures that will help improve air quality in towns and cities across the country.

  • Manufacturers found to be using devices on their vehicles to cheat emissions tests could face criminal and civil charges, with fines of up to £50,000 (US$65,000) for every device installed, under proposed new laws.

The Government expects Local Authorities to produce draft plans in eight months and final plans by December 2018.



It's obvious that these 'NEW' radical policies open the doors to bevs made in china to enter the western contries. Look what happen when you endorse all the radical in the world and spit on small gas cars only endorced by me in the entire blogging sphere.


No emphasis at all on PHEV's, and the ridiculous notion that we can increase residential electricity supply by huge amounts.
We only use around 4000kWh per household here in the UK, and the number of households is around the same as the light vehicle fleet, 25 million.
A BV uses of the order of 4,000kWh pa too, so double the residential electricity supply to move to all BEV.

I don't much fancy the overwhelming emphasis on NO2 emissions and blithe assumption of close correlation with total emissions, notably particulates. GDI particulate emissions seem to blow a hole in that, with high emissions of particulates which stay in the lungs forever.
Here is part of pg 22 of the technical report:

'COMEAP recommends that an unadjusted coefficient of 1.06 per 10μg/m3 PM2.5 should be used in cost-benefit analysis (with a 95 per cent confidence interval of 1.04–1.08), to reflect associations between long-term average concentrations of PM2.5 and all-cause mortality. Road transport emissions of primary PM are highly correlated with NOx emissions. As the PM coefficient is not adjusted to take into account possible confounding by other pollutants, including NO2, quantifying the mortality impacts of reductions in primary PM alongside those of reductions of NO2 in the same assessment could lead to an overestimate. Therefore, as in the draft Plan analysis, and following COMEAP’s advice, the central analysis of this report does not quantify the mortality impact of primary PM reductions. It should be noted that, as the measures in the Plan are likely to lead to reductions in primary PM, not quantifying these effects is likely to underestimate the total impact of the measures.
As secondary PM is produced from NOx some distance from the source and is unlikely to be highly correlated with NO2 concentrations, COMEAP advise that the mortality impacts of secondary nitrates (for example secondary PM formed from NOx emissions) can be quantified. The impacts of secondary PM formed from emissions of NOx have therefore been incorporated into the cost-benefit analysis. '

Apart from the fact that it is not going to work, will hinder measures which would help a great deal such as PHEVs, and may be founded on inadequate analysis of the sources of pollution, great plan.
As good as most of those from Governments when they are caught for not implementing the law, which is what occasioned this report.


....and yet, engineers that are a lot smarter say that it won't be a problem. With V2G capabilities coming online and with 25-30 years to ramp up the smart grid will be MORE stable. Increasing renewable energy is stabalized by utilizing a small fraction of the available battery storage from the EV batteries at night.


Reform ethanol for fuel cells, no more NOx.


Apparently although I read the whole report including the technical papers I missed this:
'Hybrid vehicles, which combine petrol and electric motors, will not be included in the sales ban.'

Not surprising really, as Governments tend to bury such things, to make the plans sound more radical than they are and deflect criticism.
It turns the plan from wholly unworkable though to practical, if way less ambitious, as a hybrid could be anything from very mild up.


Banning diesel and petrol cars by 2040 is a joke.
They need to take action now. In particular, they need to identify and remove the worst offenders, rather than force new technologies on people.
Identifying the worst offenders might not be easy but could be tightened up year by year. You might have to give grants to enable traders to replace their vehicles, if they were forced off the roads while quite new.

They could get rid of pure diesels and petrols in 10 years if they made it clear that hybrids are allowed, and if they specified what they meant by a hybrid (say > 1KwH of storage).

Rules in rural areas could be looser (initially).


At every roundabout I see vehicles belching great clouds of smoke.

If I can see it, so can any enforcement agency, or it could be picked up in thorough testing.

The worst few percent of vehicles create most of the problem.

All that is needed is the will to take highly polluting vehicles off road, and rigorous enforcement.


In 22.5 years (by 2040) NEW vehicles could be zero emission ONLY and in 32.5 years (2050) older polluting vehicles could either be banned or retrofitted to meet zero emission standards. That is fair enough?

Based on age, older vehicles (10 to 20 years old by 2050); retrofit cost could be covered with a partial subsidy or a very low cost made in China BEV?



Have another look back up the thread.
The UK report says no such thing, as hybrids are included.


I had another look at the actual reports and darned if I can see the exemption from the sales ban in 2040 that the BBC claims.

I will have another go tomorrow.


The devil is in the details, and the idiots who can't or won't pay attention to them are either going to hell... or planning to be safely gone by the time it matters.

I suspect the latter.


This is still a double date (2040 and 2050) program for NEW and Existing vehicles respectively?

The latter 2050 date for existing vehicles could easily be changed/extended if required.

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