Construction standards for vehicles, including the standards that must be met for exhaust emissions, are set at a European Union level through negotiations in which the United Kingdom plays an active part.
New emission standards for cars and vans have just been agreed. These standards will force the adoption of particulate filters on new models of diesel cars and vans brought to the market from 2009, and on all newly registered diesel cars and vans by 2012.
A proposal from the European Commission for new, and stricter, exhaust emission standards for lorries and buses is expected towards the end of this year or in the early part of the next. These standards are expected to become mandatory for new vehicles from around 2012, and to tighten particulate emissions limits by around 70 per cent.
While the retrofitting of particulate filters on cars is seldom feasible, because it is precluded by space constraints and can require reprogramming the engine management system, the retrofitting of particulate filters to heavy duty vehicles is sometimes possible. The Government encourage retrofitting existing lorries and buses with technologies designed to reduce particulate emissions through the Reduced Pollution Certificate schemes. These schemes offer operators of heavy duty vehicles a reduction in Vehicle Excise Duty for vehicles modified to meet stricter emission standards.