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Air Quality

Emissions of the main air pollutants are regulated by the EU Euro emissions standards, under the vehicle ‘type approval’ process.  The Euro emission standards have progressively reduced pollution emissions.  It is an offence under the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations (Regulation 61a(3)) to use a vehicle which has been modified (tampered) in such a way that it no longer complies with the air pollutant emissions standards it was designed to meet. The potential penalties include a maximum fine of £1,000 for a car.  The Euro 6 emission standard was introduced for most new registrations in September 2015.  

CO, NOx, and gaseous un-burnt HCs are not visible in the environment.  Similarly, a modern car should emit no visible particulate matter (smoke/soot) unless the vehicle is defective for example burning excessive engine oil or having a faulty particulate filter.  This could be an offense and could also result in the vehicle failing its MOT.  Emission of air pollutants are not solely dependent on fuel consumption.  Other factors, such as driving style, driving conditions and ambient temperature also affect them.   

Pure electric vehicles produce no exhaust pollutant emissions.  Where a pure electric or ULEV is not a practical or affordable option, those choosing to buy a new vehicle should consider one that meets the Euro 6d-temp and when available Euro 6d emission standard.  These introduce Real Driving Emissions (RDE) so that on-road performance is closer to the results achieved in the laboratory.  Purchasers/owners of Euro 6d diesel cars will not have to pay a first year supplement on the VED (for premium models this can be high at £520), and similarly business drivers are not subject to a supplement on company car tax.  At present there are few or no cars that meet this new more stringent standard; these fiscal measures will help bring these to the market before the standard becomes compulsory - in January 2020 for new models and then from January 2021 for all cars.

The fuel efficient driving tips below can also help reduce air pollution emissions.

All new cars (irrespective of technology or fuel) meet the minimum standards for charging Clean Air Zones where these are introduced for cars (for example the London Ultra Low Emission Zone), and will not be charged for access.