Scots face 2032 petrol/diesel cut-off 05 | 09 | 2017

    SCOTLAND IS TO ‘phase out’ the sale of new cars and vans powered solely by petrol and diesel by 2032, eight years before the UK Government target. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also revealed the creation of low emissions zones in Scotland’s four largest cities by 2020. The move puts Scotland on the same ‘green’ timeline as Paris, Madrid, Mexico City and Athens.

    And while sales of petrol and diesel hybrids will continue past 2032, Sturgeon — who famously used a personalised helicopter during her 2015 General Election ’Tour of Scotland’ campaign, and then again to tour constituencies in June 2017 — outlined plans to "massively expand" charging points and set up pilot projects to encourage uptake of electric vehicles.

    But significantly she failed to address the core challenge in the tidal wave of emotion towards electric cars: how the National Grid will cope with the ever-increasing demands on its ability to supply electricity at peak demand times. Nor did she address how the Scottish car-buying public will fund the switch from petrol/diesel cars to hybrid or electric.

    She did, however, pledge to ensure the A9 Scotland's first fully electric-enabled road.


    Quite what criteria will be used to confirm the A9 as a ‘fully electric-enabled road’ is not clear, given there are already a number of electric cars which can cover the distance of the A9 on one full charge.

    Sturgeon also indicated that motorists of non-hybrid or electric cars face additional charges when they drive in areas with a high concentration of tenements. The fines will, according to the First Minister, form an ‘innovation fund’ to encourage climate-change solutions.

    There will also be four low emission zones in Scotland's four largest cities — Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee — aimed at improving air quality, and encouraging walking and cycling. The zones will cover all areas of road traffic, including freight and public transport vehicles.

    "The transition from petrol and diesel cars and vans to electric and other ultra-low emission vehicles is underway and gathering pace,” Sturgeon said.

    "I am announcing today an ambitious new target. Our aim is for new petrol and diesel cars and vans to be phased out in Scotland by 2032 , the end of the period covered by our new Climate Change Plan and eight years ahead of the target set by the UK Government."

    And while she continued by stating Scotland would "massively expand the number of electric charging points" in rural and urban locations across the country to boost the take-up of plug-in hybrids and pure EVs, there remains a major stumbling block to her plans.


    Currently the Scottish Government does not have devolved control over vehicle standards or taxation.

    So, while Sturgeon’s pledges have attracted all the positive headline she wanted, the reality is there is no clear legal route whereby Scotland can implement this policy before the rest of the UK.

    That, of course, might all change in the fallout from Brexit, and Scotland’s position within, or outwith, the United Kingdom.

    But the hard fact is, at the moment she and her SNP cronies in Holyrood do not have the power to implement the ending of sales of petrol and diesel cars in Scotland by 2032.

    The UK Government envisages a plan for cars and vans on its roads to be zero emission by 2050, with the phasing out to begin a decade earlier.

    Not surprisingly, Sturgeon’s pledges within her programme for the Scottish Government were hailed as “ambitious and progressive” by environmental groups.

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    “The First Minister has set out an ambitious, progressive and green Programme for Government, which puts Scotland’s low carbon economy in the driving seat,” Gina Hanrahan of WWF Scotland, said.

    “Decarbonising our transport sector in 15 years will create new jobs, cut emissions and clean up our polluted air.

    “This announcement will help accelerate the shift to electric vehicles and sets us up to lead the technologies of the future.”

    The Scottish Green Party, however, went further, highlighting its commitment to end the use of petrol and diesel cars completely.

    “The phase out of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2032 is a good aim,” Dr Richard Dixon, Friends of the Earth Scotland Director, said, “but we need a clear commitment to end their use.

    “Greens have long argued for action on air pollution, and the commitment to have low emissions zones in four cities by 2020 — rather than the single zone the government originally proposed — is modest progress.”

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    Jim McGill


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