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Brakes and tyres highlighted in Government clean air strategy

The UK government’s new Clean Air strategy will target brake pads, tyres and other vehicle non-exhaust systems as well as emissions.

Much has been made about the need to reduce vehicle exhaust output in order to cut down on air pollution in towns and cities around the country, with diesel the biggest target. However, the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has now published its draft Clean Air paper, which has now entered the consultation stage.

As well as being a precursor to the ‘Road to Zero’ paper which is expected to outline the ban on petrol and diesel vehicle sales from 2040, which may also exclude hybrid vehicles from being sold by dealerships, the paper makes a number of other recommendation, including suggesting efforts need to be made to reduce particulate matter from friction caused by brake pads, tyres and other areas of a vehicle.

The paper states: “Much of our focus has been on the reduction of emissions from vehicle exhausts but friction during driving also generates fine particles from brakes, tyres and the road surface. They add to the concentrations of PM2.5 and PM10 people are exposed to and also have an impact on the environment. In particular, abrasion of tyres and road paints produce tiny microplastic particles, which enter rivers and lakes mainly from road run-off and can eventually be deposited into the sea.

“Particulate emissions from non-exhaust sources are a result of the friction required for braking and maintaining traction on the road, which are essential for road safety. However, these particles are harmful to human health and the environment – and a source of microplastics in our oceans. The proportion of total emissions from non-exhaust sources has increased because of action to reduce emissions from other sources, including vehicle exhaust emission standards. We will undertake a call for evidence on tyre and brake wear. Building on this, we will work with international partners seeking to develop new international regulations for particulate emissions from tyres and brakes through the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe.”

The government is also to invest £200,000 in research together with the University of Plymouth to improve scientific understanding of how tiny particles of microplastics from car tyre friction on roads make their way into the sea through sewers.

The consultation on the DEFRA paper runs to August 14th, concentrating on the themes of the report – understanding of the problem; protecting the nation’s health; protecting the environment; securing clean growth and innovation; reducing emissions from transport; reducing emissions from farming; reducing emissions from industry; and leadership. The government also wants thoughts on the strategy as a whole.