Government wants all new cars and vans to have zero-emissions capability by 2040

The Government’s new air quality plan says it will end the sale of all “conventional petrol and diesel cars” by 2040.

Hybrid cars, which combine a petrol or diesel engine with an electric motor, will still be permitted, the Government has confirmed, despite some initial confusion at the Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra).

It will also provide a £255 million package to help councils tackle emissions from diesel vehicles, as part of a £3 billion package of spending on air quality.

However, the Government says that, wanting to maintain a tight control on public spending, measures to improve air quality will be funded through changes to the tax treatment for new diesel vehicles, or through reprioritisation within existing departmental budgets. Further details on changes to the tax regime will be announced later in the year in the budget.

The air quality plan puts the burden on local authorities to tackle the causes of air pollution, with the Government saying they should consider a wide range of “innovative options”, exploring new technologies so that they can deliver reduced emissions in a way that best meets the needs of their communities and local businesses.

It continues: “Their plans could include a wide range of measures such as: changing road layouts at congestion and air pollution pinch points; encouraging public and private uptake of ULEVs; using innovative retrofitting technologies and new fuels; and, encouraging the use of public transport.”

However, if these measures are not sufficient, local plans could include access restrictions on vehicles, such as charging zones or measures to prevent certain vehicles using particular roads at particular times, it says.

The plan says that local authorities should bear in mind such access restrictions would only be necessary for a “limited period” and should be lifted once legal compliance is achieved and there is no risk of legal limits being breached again.

Local authorities will need to set out their initial plans eight months from now, by the end of March 2018. These will be followed by final plans by the end of December 2018.

The Government says it will work with local authorities and others to consider how to help minimise the impact of such measures on local businesses, residents and those travelling into towns and cities to work where such action is necessary; and will issue a further consultation in autumn to aid development and assessment of options.

The measures considered in that consultation will include options to support motorists: in particular private car drivers on lower incomes, or those who may have to switch to a cleaner vehicle. Options considered could include retrofitting, subsidised car club membership, exemptions and discounts from any restrictions, permit schemes for vans or concessionary bus travel.

A targeted scrappage scheme will also be considered in this consultation focussing on certain groups of drivers who most need support (such as those on lower incomes or those living in the immediate vicinity of a Clean Air Zone) and providing an incentive to switch to a cleaner vehicle.

It said: “A number of issues remain with such mitigation options and in particular with scrappage schemes – analysis of previous schemes has shown poor value for the taxpayer and that they are open to a degree of fraud.”

Mike Hawes chief executive of industry group the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), issued a statement saying: “Industry is working with government to ensure that the right consumer incentives, policies, and infrastructure is in place to drive growth in the still very early market for ULEVs in the UK,” he said. “However, much depends on the cost of these new technologies and how willing consumers are to adopt battery, plug-in hybrid and hydrogen cars.

“Currently demand for alternatively fuelled vehicles is growing but still at a very low level as consumer have concern over affordability, range and charging points.

Van drivers are also set to be given the right to use heavier vehicles if they are electric or gas-powered. Furthermore, manufacturers found to be using devices on their vehicles to cheat emissions tests could face criminal and civil charges, with fines of up to £50,000 for every device installed, under proposed new laws.

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Tough times for the automotive industry

The Dieselgate scandal that began two years ago with revelations of emissions-test cheating by Volkswagen has expanded to engulf many of Europe’s most celebrated car brands.

And now three major EU manufacturers – VW, Daimler and BMW – are facing a European antitrust investigation into cartel-like behaviour, following revelations published last week by Der Spiegel.

In recent years, the reputation of the automotive industry has suffered from the ongoing emissions scandal and also a wave of EU antitrust rulings that have led to different parts of the industry being fined more than €5.6bn over the last nine years for widespread market rigging.

Recent fines of auto suppliers have covered everything from car lighting systems, to air conditioning and engine coolant. Another probe is underway into the market for seatbelts and airbags.

Last year the European Commission fined four of Europe’s largest truck manufacturers €2.9bn – the largest total fine handed down by Brussels in an antitrust case. The companies – Iveco, DAF, Volvo/Renault and Daimler – had worked together to fix prices and delay the introduction of emissions technology. Another major manufacturer – MAN – was also involved but escaped a fine by turning whistleblower.

For Philippe Lamberts, co-leader of the Greens in the European Parliament, the probes, along with the emissions test cheating, all point to an “endemic problem”. Namely that nations will always be tempted to take a light touch approach with such a prized industry, leaving it to EU authorities to try and keep Europe’s house in order.

However, the commission’s powers over the car sector are narrow. It is the EU’s top corporate antitrust enforcer, but supervision of whether the auto industry respects environmental rules and other regulations is a largely national matter.

Brussels has argued for greater coordination of this supervision, and also for some centralised powers in the area of emissions-testing. But the commission did very little in response to clear evidence that emissions tests were being gamed.

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Autonomous future within a decade say Tesla

Tesla founder Elon Musk believes almost all new cars will be autonomous within a decade.

Speaking at the summer meeting of the National Governance Association, he said, ‘It will be rare for a car to be produced in 10 years’ time that is not autonomous.’

His comments support initiatives from the government to turn the UK into a leader in autonomous technology.

The Tesla boss also said that batteries would be powering half the cars on the road in 10 years’ time.

Uptake has been relatively slow so far, with EVs accounting for only 4.4% of new registrations in the first half of 2017, although that does represent a 46% rise on 2016.

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Zero-emission trucks trial to begin

Cenex, the UK’s first Centre of Excellence for low carbon technologies, has announced logistics provider Kuehne + Nagel will trial the effectiveness of zero emission-capable trucks and refrigeration units on its urban delivery routes.

Funded in part by Innovate UK’s low-emission freight and logistics project, the Temperature-controlled Range-extenders and Integrated Urban Mapping of Pollution (TRIUMPH) trial will see one of the UK’s largest fleet operators trial the effectiveness of low carbon vehicles transporting a mix of ambient, chilled, and frozen produce to Whitbread hospitality brands such as Costa and Premier Inn.

Kuehne + Nagel’s temperature-controlled transport (TCT) routes will now include four fully electric lorries, two range-extended electric vehicles (REEVs), and two liquid nitrogen-cooled refrigeration vehicles. The trial is the first of its kind to provide real-world performance data to make the business case for investment in zero emission-capable trucks and zero-emission TCT.

The project aims to inject low carbon technology into the UK’s logistics industry, which accounts for 17% of all road-transport emissions. Working in partnership, Cenex will manage data collection and mapping for the trial, while Microlise develops a supporting telemetry system, and Tevva develops a 14t REEV and zero-emission running strategies for REEVs based on the real-time air-quality measurements provided by EarthSense.

Finally, Emissions Analytics will be responsible for measuring trial vehicles’ emissions and range capability performance in real-world conditions. Findings will be shared with UK logistics operators, and used to encourage the industry to invest in low carbon technology for the delivery of food and perishable goods.

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Employment Law Update

Our colleagues at Xecutive Search have drawn attention to the recent news that the Supreme Court has allowed the appeal by the trade union, Unison, against the legality of the current system of employment tribunal fees, holding that the fees regime introduced in 2013 is unlawful.

This will mean a massive change to the way in which employment cases are handled; with employment tribunal fees being cut. This opens the door to employees seeking to make claims they may otherwise have been unable to afford.

The change means that employees looking to take out a claim (which would have previously cost them up to £1,200 in fees) will no longer have to pay out and they will be able to progress a claim without being charged.

The decision was made as the fees were considered ‘inconsistent with access to justice’, making reference to the drop in claims back in 2013 when the fees were first brought in. It was a battle fought by trade unions and is a landmark victory for these industry bodies, which have been campaigning for change ever since the fees were introduced.

From an employee’s perspective, this is positive news; trade unions had previously argued that these fees had reduced access to justice for those on lower incomes and that they were indirectly discriminatory due to a higher proportion of women making discrimination claims.

Consequently, the downturn previously seen when the fees were brought in is now very likely to be reversed, with a large increase in claims likely to take place. Employees will now be able to make claims that would have otherwise been out of their financial reach and employers will have to be much more careful, or risk claimants coming forward.

Xecutive Search would STRONGLY suggest that employers ensure that they have sufficiently robust HR and legal support to cope with this change.

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Long-term illness: guidance for managers from Ben

In the UK around 15% of the working-age population have a chronic illness or disability. Long-term conditions or chronic diseases are health problems that can’t be cured, but can be controlled by medication or other therapies. Examples can include arthritis, asthma, diabetes and epilepsy.

Although chronic illness may not necessarily by caused – or made worse – by work, poor management may have a negative impact on the individual’s health and work. By supporting employees with long-term illness, a manager can help to minimise loss of skills, encourage productivity and job retention, and help an individual maintain quality of life.

Find out how to support employees with long-term conditions
Download the Ben Physical health leaflet

Resources for managers
Promoting good physical well-being in the workplace: click here
How to support a colleague diagnosed with cancer: click here

Resources for employees
Living with chronic illness: click here
Coping with cancer: click here
Maintaining your physical health: click here
Other physical health advice and information: click here

To display online or in the office
Posters on physical health: click here
Leaflet on physical health and well-being support: click here
Pete’s story: We helped Pete boost his confidence – click here
Rosie’s story: We helped Rosie create a safe space for her son – click here

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