Gasrec welcomes today’s Supreme Court ruling that the UK government must submit new air quality plans to the European Commission no later than 31 December 2015 following its failure to comply with EU law setting limits for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution in various areas across the country, including Greater London.
The timing of the ruling also coincides with the stark findings of a new study published this week by the World Health Organisation estimating the UK suffers around £54 billion of economic costs each year associated with air pollution. The WHO said this accounts for 3.7% of GDP in Britain where 29,000 people are estimated to die prematurely each year from air pollution.
Gasrec Chief Executive Officer, Rob Wood, says: “Hopefully this will be a wake-up call for the government and wider transport industry – which is responsible for the bulk of NO2 emissions – that the development and adoption of natural gas fuelled vehicles should be greatly speeded up. At present there are around 700 such heavy goods vehicles operating daily on UK roads; this number could be exponentially increased with the right incentives and desire to improve UK wide air quality.
“We already know that HGVs represent around 2% of road vehicles but produce a disproportionate 20% of road transport CO2; they also deliver high levels of NO2 and particulates pollution. But when using a natural gas fuel, which can also be enhanced with biomethane derived from waste products, HGVs can deliver CO2 savings of up to 70%. They can also substantially reduce NO2 emissions and virtually eliminate particulates.
“We would urge the UK government to follow the lead of other European cities like Paris, which has a plan to remove most diesel vehicles by 2020 and replace diesel busses with much cleaner gas fuelled busses. This approach also makes commercial sense as running on gas is less costly than diesel even after capital costs are factored in.”