January 23, 2019

Move to get ‘white van man to go green’

People living in our towns and cities have a fundamental right to breathe clean air, exchequer secretary Robert Jenrick said as he unveiled further plans to clamp down on pollution in urban areas.

The government has launched a consultation on vehicle excise duty (VED) for vans, offering operators more incentive to ‘go green’. Less than one in every 200 vans (0.4%) bought in 2016/17 was an ultra-low emission model, so  ministers are seeking views on reforms to vehicle excise duty – currently charged at a flat rate of £250 for all vans – to make it more affordable to buy greener models.

And a separate call for evidence is looking at whether the reduced duty rate for red diesel is holding back the use of cleaner fuels by non-road vehicles and machinery in towns and cities – for example cranes or generators used on construction sites. Red diesel, which accounts for 15% of all diesel consumption in the UK, currently benefits from a reduced rate of 11.14p per litre compared to the standard charge of 57.95p. The call for evidence excludes red diesel used for agriculture and fishing.

These measures follow up on Chancellor Philip Hammond’s recent Budget announcements – including the £220m Clean Air Fund – which are aimed at improving air quality in the UK. They also form part of the government’s 25-year Environment Plan.

Robert Jenrick commented, “We want to be the first government to leave the environment in a better state than we found it. One of the ways we can do this is by using the tax system to help drivers afford greener choices.

“We want to help the ‘white van man’ go green. We appreciate that buying a new van is a major investment for small businessmen and women and want to help make environmentally friendly choices more affordable.

“Public health is at risk due to the use of red diesel in towns and cities. So we are looking at how we can level the playing field on red diesel and exploring how we can encourage users to ditch it.”