SMMT offers new technology answer

The UK motor industry has rejected environmental groups’ calls for new legislation or taxes to curb vehicle use, and is instead backing technology to reduce congestion and emissions. In its submission to the Government’s consultation exercise on an integrated transport policy, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said on Tuesday that a voluntary reduction […]

The UK motor industry has rejected environmental groups’ calls for new legislation or taxes to curb vehicle use, and is instead backing technology to reduce congestion and emissions.

In its submission to the Government’s consultation exercise on an integrated transport policy, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said on Tuesday that a voluntary reduction of vehicle use is desirable and achievable. It could limit traffic growth to under 30% in the next 20 years, the SMMT believes.

The motor industry has `a very positive role to play in finding and implementing solutions to transport problems,’ it said.

`Given the willing and open contributions put forward by the motor industry, together we can manage the motor vehicle,’ said Ernie Thompson, SMMT chief executive.

Proposals include:

* Transport planning should be based on a 30% increase in road traffic over the next 20 years

* New technology such as quick warm-up catalysts will bring about a continuing improvement in air quality, but further improvement could be achieved by encouraging regular servicing and early replacement of old vehicles

* Widespread introduction of improved fuels, especially low sulphur, should be accelerated

* A Government-industry working party should be formed to encourage the adoption of transport telematics based on common European standards, to improve the capacity of existing road systems

* Public transport can play a significant part in relieving congestion, but inexpensive vehicle parking and good information systems will be needed at interchanges to encourage transfer from cars to other modes of transport

* A driver education programme should discourage motorists from making short and unnecessary journeys

* Investment is needed in all modes of transport: bus, rail and road. The SMMT supports a change in taxation to take more account of vehicle use, such as an increase in tax on fuel and a reduction in vehicle licence fees, but any overall increase in taxes should be ring-fenced for additional transport investment. Further taxes on company cars are not justified.