Diesel pollution scandal: dodgy filter-removal practice makes cars illegal
For years some garages have been offering a dodgy practice which renders diesel cars illegal.
Most diesels produced in the last decade include a ‘diesel particulate filter’ (DPF) – a bit of kit that traps soot in exhaust fumes. Soot which can otherwise end up deep inside people’s lungs leading to a range of health problems.
When these filters fail, they can be expensive to replace or repair. So there’s a growing trend to get them taken out altogether. That leaves the car more polluting than ever and, crucially, unfit to drive. It’s an offense to drive a car that’s had its DPF removed.
Worryingly, recent tests have confirmed what many suspected after the VW scandal – that diesel cars pollute far more in the real world than in laboratories. So it’s clear that removing pollution filters is the last thing that should be allowed.
That’s why we’re urging the advertising watchdog to ban adverts that promote this service. And we’re demanding the Government makes the practice illegal.
The Government has previously condemned the removal of filters, but bizarrely it appears legal for garages to carry out the procedure. Some have taken that as an open invitation to advertise this service.
More than 1,000 diesel cars have been caught without the filter. But some unscrupulous garages now remove filters in a way which avoids detection. Hundreds of thousands of vehicles are likely to have been tampered with in this way, according to Clean Air in London (CAL).
Friends of the Earth is complaining to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) on the grounds that it’s not ok to advertise a service which results in a car that is not legally roadworthy. We’re also pushing the Government to ban this dangerously polluting practice.
Why should we be concerned about this?
Air pollution in the UK kills around 40,000 people a year and is linked to health problems like asthma. Bad air affects us all, but it’s particularly harmful to children whose lungs are still developing.
Diesel fumes – containing high concentrations of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulates – are a massive contributor to our urban air pollution problem. We need to deal with all the dirty diesel vehicles on our roads, whether or not they have a DPF filter.
The irony is that many motorists will have bought diesel vehicles because they were told they were better for the environment. The latest headlines, and the deceitful actions of some manufacturers, have shown that they were duped.
Just last year Volkswagen admitted to fitting software to millions of its diesel vehicles to cheat laboratory emission tests. Basically they were programmed to spew out less filth in the lab than on the road.
And a recent study by the Department for Transport found that all diesel cars tested produce more pollution on the road than in the laboratory. Some emitted up to 12 times the EU maximum.
It’s now more urgent than ever that we get these vehicles – which make up about half of the UK’s fleet – off the roads. As a first step, the Government must introduce a generous scrappage scheme so that people can ditch dirty diesel and switch to cleaner vehicles.
Post written by Phil Byrne, 2nd May 2016