Warwickshire has highest level of new car pollution

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The Independent Online

Warwickshire has the highest carbon emissions from new cars in Britain, suggesting that residents are opting for large engines over environmentally-friendly vehicles.

The average new car bought in the county pumps out 190.6g/km of carbon emissions, making it the "dirtiest" area in the country, according to figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers. and Traders (SMMT)

And despite campaigns by environmental groups and targets to reduce emissions, pollution from new cars increased by 2.9 per cent last year in Warwickshire. New cars in London and the South-east were also among the highest.

A spokesman for the SMMT, said: "In more affluent areas, people can afford more expensive cars and they tend to be larger cars with larger engines."

It was thought that the extra pollution in Warwickshire could be because staff at Land Rover's Gaydon headquarters and the nearby Solihull plant enjoyed discounts on 4x4s.

Figures show that emissions from new cars were cut by 10.7 per cent between 1997 and 2004, but by just 1.2 per cent since then. Environmental groups say car manufacturers are falling "way short" of a voluntary target to reduce pollution.

Campaigners have pointed out that the 169g/km pumped out by the average new car in Britain last year is considerably more than the 140g/km target which was set for 2008.

Nationally, Britain continued to have emissions above the European average last year. In western Europe, the average emission for new cars was 9g/km lower than in the UK.

Jason Torrance, of Transport 2000, said car-makers were encouraging people to "go large". He said there was too much marketing of sports utility vehicles and too little focus on smaller-engined cars.

Tony Bosworth, Friends of the Earth's transport campaigner, said the British motor industry was failing to take its environmental responsibilities seriously. "It [the British car industry] will almost certainly fall way short of the European car manufacturers' voluntary target for cutting pollution from new cars," Mr Bosworth said. "This is why mandatory targets for greener cars are needed."

Christopher Macgowan, the chief executive of the SMMT, insisted that the data showed that progress was being made. But he said: "In addition to our technological advances, buyers need incentives to encourage them into cleaner vehicles."

Friends of the Earth said the motor industry must be set mandatory targets for producing cleaner cars. It also said the cuts were a short of the target the European motor industry's trade bodies set in the mid-1990s. Mr Bosworth urged the Government to back prposals for a new law requiring successive administrations to make annual reductions in carbon dioxide."