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ClientEarth Communications

8th January 2018

Air pollution

UK: Majority support charges for more heavily polluting vehicles

More than half of the British public supports charges for more polluting vehicles to enter parts of towns and cities, a new survey has revealed.

The YouGov polling, commissioned by ClientEarth, also showed that almost three quarters of the British public think the UK car industry should help fund efforts to clean up the country’s illegal levels of air pollution. In Germany, automakers are contributing a quarter of a billion euros to a clean air fund.

There are currently illegal and harmful levels of nitrogen dioxide air pollution across the UK. Where there are illegal levels, diesel vehicles are the main culprits.

ClientEarth spokesperson Simon Alcock said: “People are more aware than ever of the harm air pollution is causing to them and their children and they want to see action. The government’s own evidence shows that a national network of charging clean air zones would be the most effective way to bring down illegal and toxic levels of air pollution.”

Among the other solutions the government mooted but then failed to act on when it produced new court ordered plans to clean up the air in 2017 was a diesel scrappage scheme, to help people move to cleaner forms of transport. More than half of those surveyed supported a scrappage scheme.

Alcock added: “A scrappage scheme is one of the solutions to this problem. People will need help to move to cleaner forms of transport, whether that’s hybrid or electric vehicles, public transport or making more journeys by walking or cycling.”

ClientEarth will face the UK government in the High Court on 25 January in an attempt to force more urgent action to clean up the air.

This is the environmental law organisation’s third legal action against the government since legal limits came into effect in 2010.

The previous two forced progress, with the government being ordered to produce new plans to bring down air pollution. However, ClientEarth will argue that the latest plans, released last summer, should be supplemented as they don’t meet the legal requirement to bring air pollution within legal limits as soon as possible.


All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,692 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 14th – 15th December 2017. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).