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Vehicle Emissions

Volume 175: debated on Thursday 28 June 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to reduce harmful emissions from road vehicles; and if he will make a statement.

My Department has been active for many years in developing standards to tackle unacceptable vehicle fumes and noise and to secure a move from leaded to unleaded fuel. We have played a key role in securing agreement in the European Community to higher emissions and noise standards, and we have also taken the lead in making improved vehicle construction standards a priority so as to further improve safety.I welcome the interest and co-operation of manufacturers in seeking to develop more environmentally friendly vehicles. However, if they are to continue to reach the standards built into their initial design, vehicles need to be properly maintained and properly tuned. Garages already offer this service to their customers. I have concluded there is a good case for adding a simple emissions check to the MOT test for all petrol-driven cars and light vans, starting next year. My Department is today issuing a consultation paper outlining what is proposed and seeking views. In future, the existing MOT test would include a tuning check. In the same way as the other items in the lest, motorists would need to ensure their vehicle met the test requirements if it were to continue on the road.It is estimated that this proposal should improve fuel consumption and hence carbon dioxide emissions by about 4 per cent. averaged over the 16ยท5 million cars and light vans in the MOT scheme, with substantially larger benefits to carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon emissions. The net extra cost to motorists should be modest, given compensating benefits through reduced fuel bills. Like everyone else, the motorist will also enjoy the non-financial benefits from lower levels of pollution.We shall also be looking at ways of increasing checks and testing techniques for emissions from heavy goods vehicles and buses, and are working with European colleagues on effective standards for testing vehicles with catalytic converters.