- Government’s approach to tackling UK air pollution ruled ‘illegally poor’ by Judge
- “Transport is probably the key parameter in air quality in the U.K. and much of urbanised Europe” says local environmentalist Dr. Gordon McGlone
- Gloucestershire PCC Martin Surl prioritising environmentally friendly transport
- He said, “I believe the police can and should make an important contribution to reducing emissions by using cleaner vehicles”
Likely changes to how air pollution is measured, resulting from the Government’s recent defeat in the High Court, justify Gloucestershire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Martin Surl’s ‘green’ aspirations, according to local environmentalist Dr. Gordon McGlone.
Mr. Surl is thought to be the first PCC to prioritise a more environmentally friendly transport policy. The Constabulary has already tested a number of electric models and last year took possession of its first electric powered Nissan Leafs, which are primarily used in Gloucester City and Cheltenham Town centres.’
Other public bodies, including police forces, may now be forced to take a similar route after the Government was told it was not doing enough to tackle the UK’s air pollution crisis.
Dr. Gordon McGlone, former Chief Executive of the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust said, “Transport is probably the key parameter in air quality in the U.K. and much of urbanised Europe.
“There had previously been a focus on pollution from solid fuel burning, such as coal – which, as a result, fell dramatically. However, this has been replaced by concerns about exposure to pollutants from transport sources, especially cars.
“Martin Surl has seen an opportunity to lead on this issue. If the police can change its operational profile to meet air quality requirements, any organisation can”.
His comments follow a test case brought by Environmental law firm ClientEarth in which the presiding judge Mr. Justice Garnham, ruled the Government’s approach was ‘illegally poor’ and put too much emphasis on cost. He criticised ministers who relied on over-optimistic pollution modelling based on flawed lab tests of diesel vehicles rather than actual emissions on the road. It was the second time in 18 months ministers had lost in court on the issue.
The Government said it would not appeal against the decision and agreed to look into a new timetable for more realistic pollution modelling and the steps needed to bring pollution levels down to legal levels
Mr. Surl said, “Diesel engines are inherently more efficient than their petrol opposites, so the CO2 levels are usually lower, resulting in correspondingly lower car tax. However, rules will change in April 2017, with new cars bought after that date having to pay a flat rate of car tax.
“The police are big car users with the vast majority of its fleet currently running on diesel engines. Since the Volkswagen emissions scandal, we know that diesels are not as good for the environment as we thought and I will not allow the Constabulary to purchase or lease any vehicle where the manufacturer had been shown to deceive the public over emissions unless remedial measures have been taken.
“Electrification of the police fleet will continue where operationally viable and emissions will be an increasing element in the decision making process alongside cost and performance when vehicles are purchased.
“I believe the police can and should make an important contribution to reducing emissions by using cleaner vehicles”.
Gloucestershire Constabulary currently has more than 400 vehicles with almost 90% run on diesel and the rest on unleaded petrol. It is the only force in the UK to hold ISO 14001 accreditation which gives advice on how to measure consumption and reduce waste and a comprehensive audit of its environmental footprint is due to be completed by the end of the year.