The chair of the Transport Select Committee has blasted the Government over the lack of information and guidance it is giving diesel car drivers and fleets in the face of the plummeting demand for diesel vehicles.
Speaking exclusively to Company Car Today, Lilian Greenwood (pictured right), chair of the Transport Select Committee and Labour MP for Nottingham South, said that the Department for Transport needs to send a clearer message to fleets on the future of diesel.
“Clearly the Government needs to be listening to the industry, they need to be listening to what fleet managers are saying about the confusion they have in their minds surrounding diesel and about how they can be part of the solution to tackle air-quality issues.
“Transport is undeniably part of the problem and it absolutely needs to be part of the solution.”
She added: “There needs to be some real clarity from the Government about what the message is to the car industry and to fleets. We saw a huge drop in the number of diesel cars bought in the last year, which probably means there are a lot more people doing nothing and sitting on their hands and driving older and dirtier diesel cars.”
Greenwood told Company Car Today that newer diesel vehicles that comply with Euro 6 emissions regulations “have a part to play” in cleaning up the nation’s air.
She urged ministers to “recognise they are part of the story”, and added: “Sometimes inaction or lack of clarity actually has unintended consequences and one of those could be that motorists aren’t investing in a newer, cleaner vehicle, even if it is powered by diesel.”
Greenwood’s views echo those of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders which last month warned the Government it could miss air quality targets on the back of average new car emissions rising for the first time in 20 years.
She said: “There is a confusing message at the moment and there isn’t a clear view for how we get from where we are now to where we want to be.
“There’s been criticism of the last Labour Government for trying to cut carbon emissions and not being sufficiently concerned about air quality, and what we wouldn’t want to do is be focused on air quality and forget carbon emissions.”
She also lambasted the Government for the lack of direction it has given councils and local authorities on the best solutions to tackle emissions. “I think a lot of councils don’t feel they have enough resources to do what is asked of them [to come up with measures to improve air quality] and secondly it is giving them all the difficult, political decisions without the Government standing behind them. Those are some of the issues we heard about in evidence in our joint select committee inquiry, with a report out in due course.”