A judgement from the Supreme Court has unanimously ordered that the government must submit new air quality plans to the European Commission no later than 31 December 2015.
This is the latest outcome of a four-year battle for ClientEarth in both the UK and EU courts and follows last year’s ruling from the European Court of Justice (CJEU) that asserts the UK can be obliged by national courts to draw up a plan to meet EU NOx limits in the ‘shortest possible time.’
The decision aims at reducing NOx emissions, but consequences are very likely to impact the diesel market. Richard Gane, director and transport sector specialist at supply chain and procurement company Vendigital, said: “If the Government decides to fast forward its plans to reduce NOx emissions, this would add weight to the growing environmental lobby against diesel-engine vehicles and potentially could lead to them being phased out, perhaps via an incentivised scrappage scheme.”
He added: “Businesses that operate large fleets may also need to step up plans to switch to hybrid or electric vehicles. However, this would be expensive, especially for smaller businesses and they may not be able to afford the up-front capital investment needed. They will be hoping that any plans to reduce the number of diesel-engine vehicles in the UK will be offset by incentives that will enable them to switch to greener models.”
The current government regulations allow UK government to escape the legal limits for nitrogen dioxide emissions until 2030 in three major urban areas: Greater London, West Midlands and West Yorkshire. UK government projections estimate 5 out of 43 zones will be compliant to EU pollution limits by 2015, 15 by 2020, 28 by 2025 and 40 out of 43 by 2030.