Consultants have been hired by the UK’s Department for Transport (DfT) to examine ways to reduce emissions, which has led to discussions about a potential ‘tyre tax’.
This move by the government has raised eyebrows in the motor trade trye fitting businesses not to mention the impact on motorists already facing financial challenges.
The safety of tyres for vehicles across the country is also a concern, as tyres release a range of particles, including toxic chemicals and metals like zinc and lead, as they break down.
Before any changes are made or new taxes introduced, the government has tasked consultants with analysing the current state of tyre emissions.
A Government spokesman told a national newspaper: “We want to better understand the impacts of non-exhaust emissions, such as tyres, on the environment which is why we’re conducting research on the matter. This research was not commissioned to inform tax policy development. “
“As we continue to deliver on our target to meet Net Zero by 2050, we are committed to keeping the switch to electric vehicles affordable to consumers, which is why we are spending billions to help incentivise uptake and fund the rollout of charging infrastructure across the UK.”
Imperial College London (ICL) recently conducted research on the impact of toxic emissions from tyres. The study warns that while electric vehicles remove the problem of fuel emissions, Britain will continue to have a problem with particulate matter due to tyre wear.
The research reveals that more than six million tonnes of tyre wear particles are released globally each year, and in London alone, 2.6 million vehicles emit around nine thousand tonnes of tyre wear particles annually.
The Transition to Zero Pollution initiative, which released the report, calls for more investment in tyre wear research. The research covers the broader impacts of tyres on the environment and human health.
The report authors suggest that policymakers and scientists investigate the complex problems related to tyre-wear pollution and develop clear policy and regulation.
Dr Zhengchu Tan, Author at Imperial’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, said: “Tyre wear particles pollute the environment, the air we breathe, the water run-off from roads and has compounding effects on waterways and agriculture. Even if all our vehicles eventually become powered by electricity instead of fossil fuels, we will still have harmful pollution from vehicles because of tyre wear. “
“We urge policymakers and scientists to embark on ambitious research into tyre wear pollution to fully understand and reduce their impacts on biodiversity and health, as well as research to reduce the generation of these particles.”
They also recommend that the government introduce a standardized system to measure environmental tyre wear levels and their toxicity.
ICL research also calls for a reduction in “harm to land and water species and in humans” by reducing limits on the use of harmful components in tyre materials.
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They suggest launching new trials to better understand the short and long-term effects of different sized particles on the environment and human health.
Nicholas Lyes from the motor trade sector said: “Talk of a tyre tax, while incredibly premature, could do more harm than good by causing more injuries and deaths on our roads by putting drivers off replacing worn out tyres when they should. “
“If levied at the point of sale, it would lead to cheaper tyres being taxed more heavily as they are far more likely to wear more quickly and shed a higher number of particles into the environment and better quality ones being taxed less. “
“Making cheaper tyres more expensive would no doubt cause some to continue driving on illegal tyres, compromising road safety for everyone.”
In conclusion, the Transition to Zero Pollution initiative suggests a series of measures that could impact private and motor trade vehicle insurance and the future of driving. The government needs to consider these measures and engage in a broader discussion about urban transport systems.