A Quango charged with protecting the environment has a fleet of diesel polluting motors, we can reveal.
Taxpayer-funded Natural England, who advise Ministers on important green issues, have a 114-diesel vehicles – but don’t hold a single electric-powered car or van.
The organisation has targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions, reduce energy use and lower waste levels.
Among its fleet are 42 Land Rovers, 42 Toyota Hi-Luxs, Vauxhalls and Fords – all powered by diesel, a Freedom of Information request shows.
The fuel has been identified as a major health risk because of the pollutants the engines pump into the air.
The fumes and tiny particles emitted by the engines can lead to an increase in hospital admissions and premature deaths.
James Cross, who stepped down as the £145,000-per-year boss last November, said the body would be at the “forefront” of Whitehall green ambitions.
He wrote that the organisation wanted to aim for being part of “the first generation to leave the natural environment in a better condition than we found it.”
Poor Air Quality
Areeba Hamid, clean air campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said: “When asked to declare a Climate Emergency, this government responded by saying that they ‘don’t know what that would entail’.
“Getting rid of an all diesel fleet from an organisation with an express purpose to protect the natural environment might be a good place to start.
“The science on both counts – how diesel fumes are harming our health and how burning fossil fuels in our cars is warming the planet – is crystal clear, but the government’s decision to keep these on our roads till 2040 is simply untenable.”
Poor air quality is thought to cost up to £2.7billion in lost productivity each year a report by the government found in 2012.
A Natural England spokesperson said: “Natural England carries out a wide range of important work in the most rural and remote areas of England.
“As a result, heavy duty vehicles are needed to manage to more difficult terrain and long distances routinely required as part of this work, and there are few opportunities to develop the charging infrastructure needed for an electric vehicle fleet.
“Our fleet is part of Defra Group Fleet Services, which are currently drafting a strategy to reduce vehicle emissions across the department and its agencies.”
Labour MP John Grogan, who sits on the Commons Environment Select Committee, said: “Natural England need to set a much better example than this.
“They boast on their website that they are the government adviser for natural environment. Actions speak louder than words.”