Half of motorists would like to see the Clean Air Zones introduced – even if they get charged for entering them

Half of motorists WOULD like to see the Clean Air Zones introduced – even if they get charged for entering them, a study found.

Birmingham and Leeds are among the cities due to introduce the zones to improve air quality in those areas, which may require drivers to pay a fee to enter.

The Clean Air Zones scheme is part of the Government’s Air Quality Plan, announced in July 2017, which aims to reduce pollution and make the air cleaner throughout the UK.

In London, mayor Sadiq Khan has also been vocal in his support for an Ultra-Low Emission Zone, which, from 8th April this year will see higher polluting vehicles charged £12.50 a day for use in the capital.

Commissioned by Hitachi Capital UK, the research of 2,000 UK adults found almost a third (31 per cent) think there is a particularly significant problem with pollution where they live.

With around half of motorists (47 per cent) admitting they are ‘too reliant’ on their car, over three quarters (78 per cent) agree vehicle emissions are a major issue in the UK - requiring URGENT action.

Worryingly, the research also found that almost 8 in ten of those polled (79 per cent) are actually unaware whether their vehicle will comply with the necessary requirements for charging exemption.

Even so, support for Clean Air Zones is so strong a third think it would be ‘fair’ if companies pass the additional costs on to customers.

The research found that Clean Air Zones are just one part of the jigsaw to tackle pollution that consumers want to see.

Just 10 per cent have owned or currently do own an electric vehicle – although over six in 10 (62 per cent) believe the move towards electric vehicles is a good thing.

Free charging ports, sufficient charging points, reassurances of sufficient battery range and financial incentives to purchase were all picked out as areas to address that would encourage electric vehicle uptake.

Jon Lawes, Managing Director for Hitachi Capital Vehicle Solutions said: “Despite the potential dent to our wallets, the research shows significant support for charging schemes that tackle pollution“It’s clear those polled believe something needs to be done – and fast. However, confusion exists amongst drivers as to whether their vehicle meets the required emissions standards to avoid these charges.

“Considering the average age of cars and vans on our roads is over eight years, vast numbers of diesel drivers in particular may be unaware they could be driving vehicles that would incur charges.”

The study also found that the car is the number one way Brits get to work (41 per cent) – miles ahead of public transport (12 per cent) and foot (10 per cent).

Further to this, 58 per cent agree we should make greater use of public transport and leave our vehicles at home more often.

Despite the positivity surrounding the introduction of clean air zones, previous attempts to reduce emissions and congestion have had mixed results according to those polled.

Seventy-nine per cent believe bus lanes have made no difference to the number of cars on the road.

Eight in 10 think car share lanes have had no impact on air quality – and 65 per cent think the same goes for cycle lanes.

Jon Lawes adds: “Whilst it’s very encouraging that the poll shows more and more drivers see alternative fuel vehicles as the long-term solution to reducing air pollution where other schemes haven’t worked, these findings highlight the obstacles that still need to be overcome to persuade drivers to truly embrace greener alternatives.

“Although the £25 million scrappage incentive scheme recently announced to help Londoners is welcome, both private and business vehicle owners are facing financial pressure in upgrading to greener options in the short term.

“Our own research has found that the migration to alternative fuels could deliver fuel cost savings running into billions of pounds for vehicle owners, whilst advances in alternative fuel vehicle performance and infrastructure are certainly changing driver perceptions.

“So while there may be a short-term cost to consumers and businesses, by encouraging people to invest in greener vehicles, the benefits in the long term will be significant, not only financially but environmentally too.”