The Natural Gas Vehicle Network (NGVN) has called on the newly elected mayors of the combined authorities to make tackling air pollution a key priority over the next three years. The new mayors in the West Midlands, Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region, Tees Valley, West of England and Cambridgeshire could play a vital role in this effort say the NGVN by bringing various stakeholders together with a common goal of improving their regions’ air for the good of all of their residents.
Recognising the importance of freight transport in keeping their regions, and their inhabitants, fully provided for, there is a challenge say the network not only to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions but also to improve air quality too, with the latter being a particular problem for inner cities.
The NGVN says that specific attention is needed to clean up HGVs, one of the most vital yet most polluting types of vehicle for cities. HGVs are estimated to account for 16% of UK road transport GHGs emissions, 21% of road transport nitrous oxide (NOx) emissions but make up just 5% of vehicle miles travelled and less than 2% of vehicles on the road. Their disproportionate environmental impact suggests it is an area ripe for action, say the NGVN.
Mike Foster, chief executive of the NGVN, said: “The government has consistently ignored HGVs in their plans for promoting cleaner vehicles and improving air quality. However, the figures show they are too big to ignore and if the phrase ‘low-hanging fruit’ ever applied, it’s here.”
A recent report from the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership suggested that compared to a diesel Euro VI engine, a gas-powered equivalent reduced particulate emissions by an impressive 96%; NOx emissions were reduced by an average of 41% over a variety of cycles whilst NO2 emissions were down by 74%. Tailpipe carbon emissions were down, and on a well-to-tank basis, CO2 savings are also significant.
Foster added: “Progress on cleaning up Britain’s air and helping fleet operators transition to cleaner vehicles has been unacceptably slow for too long. We know this is a problem which crosses local authority boundaries which is why the new combined authority mayors will hold such a unique and vital role in driving improvements in air quality.
“It is vital that they, in conjunction with all levels of government, recognise and support the significant role that gas can play as a cleaner transport fuel, both now and in the future. Given that gas-powered HGVs have been proven to deliver even greater emissions reductions and air quality improvements that Euro VI diesel, Britain’s regions could stand to benefit significantly from clear and ambitious action in this area,” said Foster.