Drivers risk being forced to pay a “tyre tax” as Britain explores a crackdown on brake and tyre wear emissions.
Ministers have hired advisers to explore how to address harmful emissions that experts say are more harmful than diesel fumes.
The Department for Transport has asked consultancy Arup to “develop recommendations on how to better assess and control these emissions which will persist after a transition to zero tailpipe emission vehicles”, according to a Government filing.
Although the Whitehall officials this weekend insisted that Arup’s work was not designed to inform tax policy, it is being seen as one of the strongest signals yet that a tyre tax is coming down the road.
Andy Turbefield, head of quality at Halfords, said: “Putting a tax on road safety is not the right way to plug the fuel duty gap. Worn tyres and faulty brakes are two of the biggest causes of accidents.
“As it is, many motorists are delaying tyre replacement and basic maintenance because of the cost-of-living crisis. Using the tax system to penalise people for keeping their vehicles in a roadworthy condition is not a good policy.”
Tyre and brake wear pollution is expected to be the next battleground for clean air campaigners after drivers switch to electric vehicles.
Particles sent into the air – known as “particulate matter (PM) 2.5” – are more harmful than nox emissions that have been the target of low-emissions zones such as Sadiq Khan’s Ulez in London.
Although tyre technology has developed to reduce dangerous emissions, the Environment Department said last week that non-exhaust road emissions have “remained largely unchanged between 1996 and 2021”
Mr Turbefield added: “If taxing non-exhaust emission is to be considered, then there needs to be more research into emissions from road surface wear. It’s plausible that electric vehicles, which are much heavier than petrol vehicles, cause more damage to road surfaces and are therefore a bigger source of road surface emissions. Any review needs to take account of the big picture.”
Read More: Drivers could be hit with new ‘tyre tax’ in new crackdown on emissions