I understand peoples concerns and certainly appreciate how much of an impact air quality can have on people who suffer from lung conditions. The Government is committed to tackling this problem. While significant improvements have been made in air quality over many years, more needs to be achieved.
Over the past five years the Government has committed over £2 billion to help bus operators upgrade their fleets, reduce pollution from a range of vehicles such as refuse trucks and fire engines through cutting edge technologies, and promote the development of clean alternative fuels such as powering taxis with liquid petroleum gas in Birmingham.
Now, the Government has issued a UK plan for improving air quality. Under it, by 2020 the most polluting diesel vehicles will be discouraged from entering new Clean Air Zones to be introduced in the centres of Birmingham, Leeds, Southampton, Nottingham and Derby. This will affect old polluting buses, coaches, taxis and lorries, but not newer vehicles that meet the latest emission standards, or private cars.
One of the main reasons cities continue to face air quality problems is that diesel vehicles have failed to deliver expected emission reductions in real world driving conditions. The Government has therefore recently come to an agreement to introduce more stringent emissions testing across the EU, ensuring vehicles live up to their low emission credentials.