CO2 Emissions from Vehicles

This is an almost sneaky little piece of legislation, because it is presented as a regulation to continue the status quo but it is actually backfilling a regulatory loophole that was created by the Government; it did not have to be created. I am concerned that this little loophole has allowed some highly polluting vehicles to be sold in Northern Ireland. It is only in September of this year that the loophole will close, so highly polluting vehicles can still be sold until then. Clearly, it was negligent of the Government to allow this to happen. For some strange reason, they dropped Northern Ireland out of the EU emissions regime two weeks before the end of the transition period and then allowed a nine-month window of lawlessness when it came to selling polluting vehicles.

Road Vehicle Carbon Dioxide Emission Performance Standards (Cars and Vans) (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2021

I spoke in Grand Committee to this Statutory Instrument: My Lords, I too thank the Minister for her explanation, but I am relieved that Lord Teverson and Lord Berkeley, used the word “opaque”, because I felt blinded by science but assumed I was the only one. This is an almost sneaky little piece of legislation, because it is presented as a regulation to continue the status quo but it is actually backfilling a regulatory loophole that was created by the Government; it did not have to be created. I am concerned that this little loophole has allowed some highly polluting vehicles to be sold in Northern Ireland. It is only in September of this year that the loophole will close, so highly polluting vehicles can still be sold until then. Clearly, it was negligent of the Government to allow this to happen. For some strange reason, they dropped Northern Ireland out of the EU emissions regime two weeks before the end of the transition period and then allowed a nine-month window of lawlessness when it came to selling polluting vehicles. Perhaps we could have some explanation of that, if it was not in the opening remarks.

Since Northern Ireland enjoys the dual status of being in the EU customs union as well as the UK internal market, I am worried that there is an opportunity for car manufacturers from across Europe and the UK to dump any remaining stock of highly polluting vehicles into Northern Ireland and for them to be sold perfectly legally. Is it possible that the Government created this nine-month free-for-all as a useful opportunity to prop up some car manufacturers and let them clear out their polluting inventory? I sort of felt that that was what the Minister was saying in her introduction.

I have a few questions. Can the Minister give details of how many vehicles have been sold in Northern Ireland through this loophole? How many more are left to be sold and are likely to be sold—I realise that is a harder question—before the September deadline? What is being done to prevent car manufacturers exploiting the loophole and dumping dirty vehicles in Northern Ireland, or do the Government just think this is fair game?

Read the whole debate on Hansard