London, 22 Sep 1999.
For immediate release.

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Press Release

Drivers Fuming at Misdirected Emissions Tests
Exhaust Testing For Cars Unjust While Polluting Buses Remain Untouched
With the launch of a campaign titled 'Stop Fuming', which involves yet more roadside emissions tests for cars, the ABD seeks to inform the public of the facts behind car emissions and asks why such testing isn't carried out on public service vehicles such as buses and coaches. It also deplores the continuing practise of some local authorities involving fining drivers over this issue.

Buses produce far more particulates than cars - the only substance which currently fails to meet WHO (World Health Organisation) safe limits on a regular basis, and the only exhaust component which will fail to meet clean air targets. The main exhaust gases for which drivers are fined by councils for emitting too much of, carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons, are usually present at only a fraction of safe levels.

"This is typical of the unfair treatment of the car driver," says Brian Gregory of the ABD. "He has been fined in complete ignorance for putting out too much of a gas which is at harmless levels in the surrounding atmosphere, whilst the bus, which is actually seriously polluting, has gone by unhindered."

Modern cars emit 99.9% non-toxic gases and are positively environmentally friendly, some even clean the air passing through their engines. Buses currently involved in an illicit love affair with the Deputy Prime Minister and environmental pressure groups - are all too often filthy polluters.

Scientific research tells us that one diesel engined bus exhaust:

The catalogue of shame attached to public transport's eco-unfriendly face is made worse by the fact that buses do not have to pass strict emissions tests, and are frequently allowed close to, or inside, pedestrianised areas, where greener cars have been banned.

In addition, buses operate for the majority of the time at far below their passenger carrying capacity, and will continue to do so even if more people use them (as this will require more bus services), making their supposed green credentials even more tarnished.

Against this background there are lessons from the last spate of roadside emissions tests, still being carried out by some Local Authorities, which revealed a deplorable catalogue of inconsistency and ineptitude:

Despite the failure of these schemes to catch out sufficient drivers to be "viable", some authorities have continued with them out of pure political prejudice.

Annoyance at this injustice would increase tenfold if drivers realised that there is no published air quality monitoring site anywhere in the UK at which hydrocarbon levels (benzene and 1:3 butadiene) exceed the thresholds set by the World Health Organisation (based on a 12 month average). Only at kerbside in Central London do they get even close, and nobody spends a whole year in such a location.

They would get positively angry if they realised that carbon monoxide levels (measured on a spot basis) rarely get over 10% of the safe ambient levels.

These are the only two substances for which older cars have a legal limit on tailpipe emissions.

ABD Chairman Brian Gregory comments: "After so much hot air from Johnny Two Jags Prescott, using public transport remains an unpleasant and costly experience. This is forcing anti-car politicians to make car use equally costly and unpleasant, as the only way to achieve their 'modal shift' goals of social re-engineering. Mile for mile, buses are filthy polluters compared to the car, and Two-Jags has admitted it will be nearly 20 years before the bus pollution problem is solved. Publicising and enforcing yet more roadside emissions tests on cars will rightly be seen as a fig leaf to hide politicians' embarrassment at the indefensible nature of their attitude to the car."

"We have seen in recent weeks that the anti-car lobby believes attack is the best form of defence. They may be able to make motorists pay now, but Two Jags and his anti-car advisers will pay later ... at the ballot box."

National Environment Technology Centre
University of Kyoto
Interview between John Prescott and Mike Rutherford


Notes for Editors