From coronavirus to clean air – sustainability must be a key fleet policy

From coronavirus to clean air – sustainability must be a key fleet policy
Martin Brown

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Martin Brown

April 2020

Walking around the nearly deserted streets of my home city Glasgow – during my once a day choice of exercise – two things struck me: how silent were the streets; and how clean the air.

I know it’s a desperate time, but it’s important to look for positivity around us.

This lack of noise – you can hear the birds in the parks, for instance – and the better quality air are really important additions to our lives as we try to make sense of the coronavirus pandemic.

And why, I thought, can’t it always be like this?

I followed the COVID-19 outbreak in China and was surprised to see such a dramatic drop in pollution levels, particularly those of nitrogen dioxide. With little or no traffic, the cessation of its coal-fired industry and few flights over the country, the effect was dramatic. A story on the BBC’s website, using NASA imaging, illustrates what a demonstrable effect coronavirus had on pollution levels across China.

Turning closer to home, engineering consultancy Ricardo has analysed some of the figures for the UK during the coronavirus pandemic which show a dramatic decrease in nitrogen oxides particularly once lockdown took place. In Glasgow the reduction was 28%; in London’s Marylebone the reduction was even greater at 39%.

Post pandemic, commerce will return with the additional pollution that entails. But do we have to accept the same? Should we accept polluted air? Air that is so contaminated that it causes lung and heart disease and premature death.

It needn’t be like that.

It shouldn’t be like that if fleets start transitioning to electric zero-emission company cars and vans.

The taxation benefits for company car drivers are brilliant: zero per cent on the company car tax rates this tax year (2020/21) followed by 1% and then 2% increases.

There’s no VED, either. And while the Plug-in Car Grant has been reduced to £3000 with an exclusion for cars over £50,000 it remains a worthwhile inducement.

For vans – subject to suitability – there’s greatly reduced running costs and a Plug-in Car Grant that’s worth up to £8000.

So use this time during the coronavirus lockdown to reconsider your fleet policy. It’s time for a pivot – to cleaner cars and vans. To greater sustainability.

And then we can all breathe more easily.


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