New Pollution tax will be the last straw for thousands of UK motorists.
UK drivers are set to be hit with yet more taxes, this time said to be needed to combat tyre and brake pollution, which could lead the poorest in society abandon owning a car completely.
The new taxes will be levied on tyres and brake pads, and thus include electric car as well as older petrol vehicles.
Until now tax on vehicles has focused on exhaust pollutants, even though an estimated 98% of all combustion-engined cars in the UK have Catalytic converters, tax on petrol and diesel remained high with the UK rates some of the highest levied anywhere in the world.
Experts now claim that tyre and brake dust is more harmful than diesel fumes and must be addressed in order to reach the clean-air targets of 2030. The Department for Transport has asked consultancy Arup to “develop recommendations on how to better assess and control these emissions which will persist after a transition to zero tailpipe emission vehicles”, according to a Government filing.
Although Whitehall officials insisted that Arup’s work was not designed to inform tax policy, it is being seen as one of the strongest signals yet that a tyre tax is coming down the road. It should also be noted that the government have not approached industry to cure the problem, but jumped straight to the taxision as the solution.
Andy Turbefield, head of quality at Halfords, told the Telegraph: “Putting a tax on road safety is not the right way to plug the fuel duty gap. Worn tyres and faulty brakes are two of the biggest causes of accidents."
“As it is, many motorists are delaying tyre replacement and basic maintenance because of the cost-of-living crisis. Using the tax system to penalise people for keeping their vehicles in a roadworthy condition is not a good policy.”
Tyre and brake wear pollution is expected to be the next problem needing to be fixed according to clean-air campaigners raise, especially as drivers switch to electric vehicles.
Emphasis has changed from fixing the climate to lowering pollution in what some are calling an excuse to penalise motorists refusing to adopt the 15 minute city agenda.
The Department. for the Environment said last week that non-exhaust road emissions have “remained largely unchanged between 1996 and 2021” but failed to mention that exhaust emissions have dramatically declined in the same period thanks to Catalytic Converters, Direct Injection engines and computer technology all combining to make combustion engines the most efficient and least polluting they ever been.
The Government deny that this is simply another punitive tax designed to price drivers off the road. The tyre and brake tax, said to be almost certain to be introduced, will work in conjunction with road pricing, 15 minute city zones, LTNs and speed reductions as a way of 'encouraging' people out of their cars.
However, a government spokesman claimed: “We want to better understand the impacts of non-exhaust emissions, such as tyres, on the environment which is why we’re conducting research on the matter. This research was not commissioned to inform tax policy development."
“As we continue to deliver on our target to meet Net Zero by 2050, we are committed to keeping the switch to electric vehicles affordable to consumers, which is why we are spending billions to help incentivise uptake and fund the rollout of charging infrastructure across the UK.”
In May Professor Alastair Lewis, chairman of the Department for Transport Science Advisory Council hinted at the agenda, saying: “When everybody owns a low emissions vehicle, low emission zones become a toothless control lever to try to manage air pollution." “A world where we [have] jam-packed roads full of electric cars [also] isn’t a particularly attractive one… Even if they are electric, [they] will generate lots of particles.”
“At some point in the future when most of those cars have disappeared, a different form of air pollution control” is likely to be needed, he added. “We do have to project forward about how we’re going to manage vehicles in large cities like London in the future when we have a largely electrified fleet of vehicles.”