London, 28 Apr 2000.
For immediate release.

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No Need To Restrict Cars Because Of Air Pollution, Says TRL
"Restrictions on cars on air quality grounds have been shown not to be warranted" - Transport Research Laboratory
The Association of British Drivers (ABD) welcomes the above finding, reproduced word-for-word from Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) report 431 (page 37), a report which explores future options for a Low Emission Zone (LEZ) in London, and wholly vindicates the ABD's rational position on air quality.

The ABD calls upon all in local authorities, not just those involved in this study, to put a stop to anti-car policies immediately, since these cannot be justified on either environmental or congestion grounds.

ABD Roads & Traffic Spokesman Mark McArthur Christie has this message for those with responsibility for traffic management:

"Recent transport surveys in 1998 and 1999 have shown government forecasts to be false by revealing lower or constant vehicle volumes on urban roads. Yet congestion is getting worse in many places, so it's also clear that local authorities' traffic policies are actually causing the congestion they claim to want to cure.

Pedestrianisation plagues and other road closures, two-way to one-way roads and road narrowing, humps pillows and chicanes, gating cars at traffic lights and empty bus lanes, ever slower speed limits - these are the true sources of growing congestion in pot-hole Britain. This congestion slows down the improvement in air quality we are enjoying and is a blight to the economy."

Contrary to scaremongering messages from pressure groups and even the DETR, designed to propagate the myth that cars are responsible for growing pollution levels, air quality in this country has been improving steadily since 1991 and is forecast to go on improving. London in particular has seen improvements. However there remain calls from those in authority to reduce car use in favour of polluting buses which do not have to pass the same strict emissions tests that cars are forced to meet annually. The message in this quote from TRL 431 is clear:

"Wide-scale exclusion (of cars) would be socially and economically unacceptable. Restrictions on cars on air quality grounds have been shown not to be warranted by this study".

ABD Environment Spokesman, Bernard Abrams, comments:
"This TRL report confirms what the ABD has been saying all along - that buses and taxis are the main reason why air quality targets in London have not been met, even though pollution levels are falling. Petrol car generated pollutants are well within current WHO safe limits. There are three key reasons why buses in particular are an environmental disaster, given that much cleaner transport alternatives exist:

1. The National Environment Technology Centre has shown that a single diesel bus produces as much particulate pollution as 128 petrol cars, and NOx emissions equivalent to 39 cars. Not one of the ageing fleet of diesel buses in London, or elsewhere, carries anything like 100 car-driving passengers, and many operate way below capacity. Meanwhile, taxis often need to return empty from dropping a single passenger - the ultimate in waste - but are encouraged by permission to use bus lanes!

2. Scientists have found one of the most carcinogenic chemicals known to man (3-nitrobenzanthrone) in diesel bus exhausts when the engine is under load, i.e. when pulling away from any High Street bus stop.

3. Public transport such as the bus is not sustainable compared to private transport except on the most heavily used routes, consuming on average 60% more energy per person transported (Automotive Advisers and Associates, Hilden, Germany).

"On the worst days for air quality, much of the problem is due to trans-boundary pollution, drifting up from the continent, yet cars are blamed (wrongly) every time," continues Abrams.

A recent Audit Commission report, 'All Aboard', slammed public transport as costly, inflexible and unreliable, to which the ABD would add 'filthy, polluting and a risk to personal safety for some groups'.

TRL 431, looking to the future, states: "In 2005 M&HGVs and buses would make the largest contribution to traffic emissions of PM10 [particulates] and NOx [oxides of nitrogen]. This suggests that an effective LEZ should target certain categories of vehicle." The ABD points out that these sentences side-by-side plainly show that the Transport Research Laboratory is advising authorities to restrict access to buses and lorries, not cars, in order to improve air quality further, but stops short of daring to actually say so.

ABD Chairman Brian Gregory concludes: "This TRL report confirms that empty bus lanes waiting for half-empty buses are not just a waste of time, money and road space, but also a major source of pollution in our towns and cities. What's more, proposals to charge car drivers for access to towns and cities, as is happening in Bristol and elsewhere, represent a cynical dash for cash by ripping off motorists.

Anti-car policies such as these have nothing whatsoever to do with protecting the environment. We trust that copies of TRL 431 will be provided for -better still, read to - all candidates for the post of Mayor of London, including the farmers' pig, should it stand."

The ABD calls on councils and authorities to recognise this basic fact of transport life - that the car is most often the greenest option.

 

Reference:
Transport Research Laboratory Report 431 "A Low Emission Zone for London"
by J Cloke, J A Cox, A J Hickman, S D Ellis, M J Ingrey, and K Buchan (MTRU), 2000

 

Notes for Editors