VW emissions affair


UK Drivers are being left in the dark due to mixed messages from ministers.

By Richard Burden

Originally published by HuffPost, October 21, 2015

The UK Government must come clean on what they knew and move quicker to end uncertainty for drivers.

Almost a month after Volkswagen’s use of “defeat devices” to evade regulatory emissions limits in the USA became known, it is clear that the implications here in the UK, are just as serious.

Most immediately affected and facing awful uncertainty are the owners of 1.2 million Volkswagen diesel vehicles, after it emerged “defeat” software had also been installed in VW Group vehicles on this side of the Atlantic. It is not surprising that confidence in the automotive industry as a whole has been shaken by this, with industry bodies such as the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders moving quickly to secure guarantees from other manufacturers that they have not been involved in anything similar.

The issue of cheat software has, however, brought to the public’s attention, deeper issues about how far vehicle emissions tests reflect the reality of driving conditions on the road. In other words, are the emissions they record representative even when there is no cheating going on? Belatedly, we are finally waking up to the air quality crisis facing many of our towns and cities. We have pledged to reduce nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions by 55% by 2020 (compared to 2005), and 30% of nitrogen oxides emissions in this country are generated by motor traffic.

So it is not surprising that, in the UK Parliament, both the Transport and Environmental Audit Select Committees have launched inquiries into the implications of the VW affair. Meanwhile, as the RAC Foundation and others have warned, VW drivers themselves still do not know how the recall of their cars will work – especially in light of German regulators’ decision to reject Volkswagen’s voluntary recall scheme.

Where though, is the UK Government in all of this? …

Read the full article here.

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Richard Burden

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I was Labour Member of Parliament for Birmingham Northfield between 1992 and 2019 and a former Shadow Transport Minister. I now chair Healthwatch in Birmingham and Solihull, and the West Midlands Board of Remembering Srebrenica. I also work as a public affairs consultant. I am an effective community advocate and stakeholder alliance builder with a passion for human rights. I am a trustee of the Balfour Project charity and of Citizens Advice Birmingham, and a former Chair of Medical Aid for Palestinians.

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