What official cars say about attitudes to air pollution

official car

Two thirds of Scottish Government ministerial cars are diesel it emerged this week following an investigation by The Scotsman.

Under plans to reduce the air pollution that is estimated to cost the lives of over 40,000 people around Britain every year, the dirtiest vehicles are to be banned from city centres in Scotland by 2020.

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It is disappointing that two thirds of Scottish ministerial vehicles are diesel-powered, but we suspect this ‘do as we say and not as we do’ approach to air pollution is echoed by many areas of government around Britain, including at a local level. For example, it is common practice for local mayors to arrive at official engagements in a diesel powered limousine which sends an altogether unhelpful message when air pollution is having such a detrimental effect on the communities they serve.

| Scottish Liberal Democrat environment spokesperson Mariam Mahmood: “This is embarrassing – SNP ministers should be leading by example.”

Can official transport be green?

Yes, absolutely. Local officials who feel their arrival deserves the pomp and ceremony of a fossil-fuelled limousine should take inspiration from the Dutch prime minister, who often cycles to his engagements. Nearer to home, South Wales police have stopped employing drivers for their senior officers. As a result, Chief constable Matt Jukes, now uses alternative means of transport for official business – in his case, a Brompton folding bike.

Brompton police car

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  1. Fergus Duncanson


    This is a fatuous, shallow piece of reporting. A year ago you would be praising the Sc Gov for being financially efficient – road tax is much lower for diesels, by UK Gov policy – before the current ‘demonise diesel’ policy started, and for cost saving and environment saving since diesels are more fuel efficient (my diesel car gives 50% more mileage than my previous petrol one, and with a cat convertor is no more dirty).
    Diesel cars doing 10-20k miles pa are not the primary problem in cities; the diesel vans, taxis, lorries and buses (particularly the older ones) doing 50-250k miles pa contribute vastly more. They should be the prime target.

  2. John Williams


    Totally agree with Fergus Duncanson, particularly in view of a recent BBC article showing that an older petrol car can me more polluting than a modern diesel.
    A much more genuine issue was only touched upon in the article – why aren’t more officials arriving at engagements via bicycle and public transport, particularly for city areas where the distances travelled are usually quite short.
    For goodness sake, lets stop demonising diesel cars, which just happen to be a convenient target, and start doing something real about industrial pollution.

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