WARNINGS over diesel-engine cars in the UK grossly exceeding emissions targets were received by the government as far back as 2009, according to The Times.
King’s College London and Leeds University scientists analysed the levels of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) in London for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), and their 2009 report found that, despite the lowering of limits for these pollutants under the European emissions regulations, NOx levels in central London had risen by seven per cent over a five-year period – in contrast to the expected fall of 20 per cent.
A further warning was delivered to Defra in 2011, which indicated that NOx emissions from diesel cars and LGVs had not decreased for between 15 and 20 years.
Although the research specifically highlights the inadequacy of diesel emissions tests, it raises questions about what the environment secretaries of the time – Hilary Benn and Caroline Spelman – knew about the issue.
Successive governments have pushed diesel as an environmentally-friendly alternative to petrol, while tax breaks for diesel cars have led to more than 2.7 million additional diesels on the road since 2009, according to the RAC Foundation.
Diesel emissions can cause lung cancer and have been a factor in tens of thousands of early deaths in the UK each year.
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