FUEL: Safety must come before economics

It has been known since the late 1990s by our governments that diesel fuel causes deaths from NO2 and particulate emissions from diesel cars.

Recent research estimates there are over 500 premature and unnecessary deaths throughout Tyne and Wear alone each year from illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, asthma, and also reduced sperm count in men.

The public here need to be aware about why there has been so little reduction in the levels of pollution in our towns and cities. Because, at the same time, Government policy has been to persuade drivers to buy diesel cars.

Why have successive governments in both the UK and the EU allowed lobby groups from the car manufacturers and diesel industry to have such a level of influence that has seen vast Government subsidies to diesel cars?

Why have our political representatives been supporting and subsidising a product that is so dangerous to everyone’s health?

The justification given was that UK governments wanted to reduce carbon emissions, which cause climate change/global warming, and claimed that diesel fuel looked effective in that sense, despite no informed public debate.

But, at the same time they had received scientific research that warned them about the enormous health risks associated with diesel fuel. Both Labour and Conservative governments have known about the health risks associated with diesel fuel all the time they have been promoting and subsidising its use on behalf of the car manufacturers.

Corporations will always go for profit and the VW case has shown they will cheat at any cost to the public health, and yes, diesel cars may be cheaper to run in money terms, but this now has to be set against the number of unnecessary deaths and the polluted air we all have to breathe.

Isn’t it time we had effective regulation and testing of these vehicles, ie independent of the car manufacturers?

It is all our responsibility to lobby our representatives to represent us and our children.

If you would like to join us in our work, or want to know more about us, see www.twptug.org.uk or e-mail twptug@phonecoop.coop

Vicki Gilbert

Chairman, Tyne and Wear Public Transport Users Group