Environment and Air Pollution
The Freedom for Drivers Foundation has been very concerned with the misinformation that has been spread by the national media about the impact of air pollution from vehicles on the health of the population. We believe it is not a major health crisis but simply a major health scare fed to a gullible public by journalists wanting a story.
The promotion of such stories has also led to Government over-
The prime objective often appears to be simply the desire to extract money from car drivers and other vehicle users.
The ABD has published a full analysis of the issues that actually gives the truth about the claims made for air pollution, and rebuts many of the allegations. It is entitled “Air Quality and Vehicles: The Truth” and can be downloaded from here:
Please read it. But here’s a summary of the contents:
Is there actually a public health crisis? The simple answer is NO. The evidence does not support such claims.
In reality air quality has been steadily improving and will continue to do so from technical improvements to vehicles. Meanwhile life expectancy has been increasing. There is no public health crisis!
Life expectancy might be improved slightly, for example by a few days if all air pollution was removed. But air pollution does not just come from vehicles but from many other sources of human activity such as heating, industrial processes, farming, building, cooking and domestic wood burners. Only about 50% comes from transport. The air outside is typically cleaner than in people's own homes or in offices and that is where they spend most of the time.
Removing all air pollution would be economically very expensive and leave us with no transport (buses, trains, aeroplanes or cars) and also stop all deliveries of food and other goods. You would not want to live in such a world.
We give all the evidence on our claims above in the aforementioned paper.
But the FFDR does accept that air pollution does need to be improved, particularly in certain locations, and we recognise public concern about it. However we argue that measures taken to improve matters should be proportionate and cost effective. There needs to be a proper cost/benefit analysis before imposing restrictions or charges.
There are many measures that can be used to reduce vehicle emissions without restricting motorists or imposing major extra costs on them.
There is certainly no need to panic over air pollution!
Previous comments we have made on the air quality issue, including detailed analysis of the London ULEZ are given below:
Note that on the 18th December 2017, the Information Commissioner’s Office issued a Decision Notice requiring TfL to disclose the budgets for the ULEZ extension. An explanation was provided on our blog here: ICO-
The budget figures subsequently disclosed by TfL, our own estimates of the revenue which were wildly different, and the cost/benefit ratio, are contained in this document: Cost-
The financial forecasts on the expansion of the ULEZ to the North/South Circular were given in this blog post in April 2020: ULEZ-
In 2021, the cost of the expanded ULEZ rose again to £130 million -
An interesting paper was produced by Neil Oliver on the "Social Costs of Air Pollution from Cars in the UK" in Augist 2017. It can be read here: Social-
A note on the data on life expectancy published by the ONS in December 2018 which shows that air pollution in London is certainly not a major health crisis and in fact it helps you to live in the most polluted central London boroughs is present here: Life-
As air pollution is a hot topic at present, there are likely to be more articles on the London Blog -