Green motoring: Lack of legislation is illogical

As she drove off, I noticed her getaway car, a Y reg Fiesta, was looking decidedly unhealthy as it billowed grey smoke from its exhaust. I should imagine that her car was emitting at least ten times the level of carbon dioxide than the Range Rover she was flyering.

This got me thinking. These ill-advised protesters have got their focus all wrong. Rather than flyering 4x4s, they should be lobbying the government for better legislation to address the green issues around car emissions properly.

Currently, the focus of emission taxation is based on new car emissions and the type of vehicle. There has yet to be a coordinated fiscal regime that also includes the real polluters: the older cars! Crazy.

Nearly 8m used cars are sold annually. That is nearly four times the number of new cars sold in the same period. A policy that included used cars would encourage regular maintenance, resulting in safer cars. It would also help drive the real polluters off the road by bringing forward their appointment with the crusher.

An annual MOT that incorporates an emissions test would record the actual carbon dioxide emission from a particular vehicle, rather than relying on the manufacturer’s claim. This figure could then be multiplied by the miles driven since the last test, enabling a road tax to be calculated according to the total carbon dioxide emitted over a year.

A emissions-related road tax would fairly hit the high emitters and those with high mileage, but it wouldn’t unfairly penalise owners of high performance cars who are often based in cities and cover limited distances.

I was alarmed to hear that there was talk of reducing the MOT to every other year. Personally, I would make it an annual test, starting from year one and annually thereafter.

Although virtually all modern cars are much better made than they used to be and capable of higher mileages before needing a service, the public is being short-changed. This has led to reduced safety checks because longer service intervals mean that a car does not see a garage for more than two years.

Annual testing would deal with safety checks and could incorporate emission testing at the same time. The only question, then, is how the government should spend the green tax collected.

The recent move to target the “owners of high-end four-wheel drives” with unique local taxes is inappropriate. There is no good reason why owners of high performance and, therefore, higher carbon dioxide-emitting cars should be penalised because they live in a certain postal code. Ridiculous!

Why should residents of Richmond have to pay three times as much for parking permits for their higher emission vehicles than any other London borough?

An emission-related charge is a responsible measure to reduce environmental damage but it needs to address all vehicles on the road. Targeting specific locations with prejudicial ad hoc local taxes on specific vehicle types is a misguided policy by local politicians.

So what should the sports car enthusiast buy to stay green? The sports car of the future for me is the Tesla, which is produced in America with the backing of the Google founders. The design is based on a Lotus, but the Tesla runs purely on electric power and has a range of more than 200 miles. The Tesla may be seen on our shores one day and, with zero emissions, it might well become the sports car of choice for the residents of Richmond!

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