A leading motoring group has warned that millions of drivers are in the dark over how future clean-air zones could affect them because of a lack of clarity over vehicle emissions.
With more and more towns and cities considering measures to cut pollution, the RAC has warned that drivers could be caught out by rules which ban or impose fees on vehicles with certain levels of emissions.
It is calling for the Government to create a database which will let motorists check what category of emissions standard their vehicle meets simply by entering their registration number.
“It is simply unacceptable that there is currently no easy-to-use or conclusive online look-up system available”
Rod Dennis, RAC
In a bid to improve air quality, dozens of towns and cities that breach legal air pollution limits have been told by the Government they must publish plans for reducing harmful nitrogen dioxide emissions by the end of March 2018.
It is expected that many of these will opt to introduce “clean air zones”, which could restrict access to some areas or introduce levies like London’s T Charge depending on a vehicle’s Euro emissions rating.
The Euro standards are already used to determine vehicle excise duty and in countries such as France are also used for clean air zone restrictions. Yet, RAC research has found that four in 10 British drivers haven’t heard of the Euro emissions classification system, while nearly two-thirds of those that have (64 per cent) either don’t know what category their own vehicle fits into or are unsure of it.
RAC spokesman Rod Dennis said: “As councils across the UK develop plans to tackle harmful emissions on a local level, we expect millions of drivers will want to find out the Euro emissions category of their vehicle.
“It is simply unacceptable that there is currently no easy-to-use or conclusive online look-up system available – this will no doubt leave drivers confused about whether or not they are likely to be impacted by the introduction of clean air zones.
“The DVLA already holds detailed records on vehicles registered in the UK – including CO2 emissions and engine size – and makes this freely available online; so why shouldn’t they also make available this one vital piece of information on each vehicle’s Euro emissions category?”
The Eu-wide Euro standards, which set the maximum tailpipe emissions of pollutants such as CO2 and NOx, were introduced in 1992 with Euro 1 and since then each level has set more stringent limits. The current Euro 6 standard was introduced in 2015, although some Euro 5 cars were still sold until September 2016.
How to check your car’s Euro standard
- Check the table on the RAC website. Note that if you are checking a vehicle that was registered between 1 September 2015 and 1 September 2016, check with the manufacturer directly.
- If you have a newer vehicle, look at its V5C registration document as it may show the Euro emissions category on there.
- Enter details on the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA) website and then scan the matching record. You’ll need to know the following information for this: month and year the vehicle was first registered; fuel type (petrol/diesel/alternative); transmission type (manual/automatic); manufacturer (eg Volkwagen); model (eg Golf); description (the exact model variant, eg 1.6 TDI 105PS BlueMotion). But when it comes to a car that’s already registered, even the VCA recommends that you…
- Check with a vehicle manufacturer directly.
Rod Dennis added: “Much greater transparency of Euro emissions information will also help inform drivers as to how polluting their car might be, and assist them when it comes to choosing their next one. It may even act as a catalyst to encourage drivers to purchase an ultra-low emission vehicle.
“The bottom line is that if local authorities are using emission standards as the measure as to whether a charge is applicable, then there must be a way for drivers to check what category their vehicle is.
“It is in the Government’s best interests to make accessing basic Euro emissions information as straightforward for the UK’s 38m drivers as possible.”