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  • ESG Responds to Pollution Tax 02.07.24

    The ESG shares the community’s concerns regarding the sudden and totally unexpected pollution tax on 10yr old cars (regardless of emissions and type) announced by the Chief Minister yesterday. A lot has been said, the measure was reversed, but the situation understandably remains uncertain.

    As with the Linewall Road closure, the ESG, campaigning for a healthier environment, at the time did not totally reject the idea behind the sudden decision of road closure to cars, but felt it needed far greater planning and delivered on a cross party basis. 

    Any measure to clean up our environment specifically from transport has been high on our agenda for years. This goes for road and marine transport. Our legally binding Climate Change Strategy contains targets for this purpose. We believe the community needs to get behind the changes we need to make (once fully discussed and analysed, ideally via a public parliamentary select committee with input from experts and interested parties) to achieve a healthier environment. Decisions should, in our view, be made here and not announced via an annual budget.

    The strategy is a living document and should be updated to reflect impacts as understood from ongoing data gathering and changes going forward. Our major turnover on fossil fuel sales results in a very large carbon footprint but also leads to raised levels of pollution locally, calling for the divestment of oil as an income stream in the longer term.

    The ESG have over the years pushed for urgent action to be taken on ageing vehicle fleets, especially in the commercial and industrial sectors where impacts are greatest. Our second hand bus fleet has been a major concern for us as we continue to lobby for these to be replaced. We have pushed for best practice to be applied, through incentives, penalties and the setting up of appropriate economic support. These, surely should be priority for action.

    We want to see roadside pollution disappear. We want to see marine vessels clean up their activity. This will involve focus and analysis and we believe looking at emissions and fuel use would be a better place to start in cutting back on poisons in our environment.

    However, some law changes are also imperative, for example, we have a law on emissions today which permits vehicles to pollute to their year of manufacture. This is totally at odds with the effort to clean up our environment and certainly conflicts with a tax payable allowing such cars to be driven. This must change! Emissions should be regulated on safety levels alone which probably means resourcing the MOT centre to roll out a more stringent and reliable role. 

    However, while we have and wish to continue to have, an open border policy we have no means to control the entry of illegally polluting motorised vehicles. This means that as we work to push up stds on our performances, we remain  vulnerable to imported pollution too. This needs to be examined at a European level.

    The possibility of a larger and more active airport means rising air pollution from there too,  another transport impact.

    Finally, and unfortunately as is often the case in our homeland, we face the prospect of yet another Treaty where questions loom also for our environment and how this could be further threatened or actively improved in the outcome, but we don’t yet know and this creates concerns and anxiety.

    The ESG hopes we will forge a way through and see community support in measures taken to improve our health and our precious environment, while reducing our impacts on the wider Climate, but there will be many challenges ahead.