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Volkswagen: Emissions Controversy

Oral Answers to Questions — Environment – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:30 pm on 13th October 2015.

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Photo of Joe Byrne Joe Byrne Social Democratic and Labour Party 2:30 pm, 13th October 2015

T2. Mr Byrne asked the Minister of the Environment to outline any action his Department is taking around the Volkswagen emissions controversy regarding the software that is misrepresenting pollution levels, which is receiving such strong publicity at the moment. (AQT 2982/11-16)

Photo of Mark Durkan Mark Durkan Social Democratic and Labour Party

I thank the Member for that question, which is, indeed, very topical, and which concerns me as a Volkswagen driver — I know that you are one as well, Mr Deputy Speaker.

I strongly support the development of the European Commission proposals for real driving emissions standards legislation. The legislation, if adopted, will require car manufacturers to ensure that real-world vehicle emissions comply much more closely with European emissions standards.

Photo of Joe Byrne Joe Byrne Social Democratic and Labour Party

I thank the Minister for tackling the issue. What can the UK Government or this regional Government do to protect the interests of consumers and those who have purchased such vehicles and are concerned about the environment and about the miles per gallon performance of the vehicles?

Photo of Mark Durkan Mark Durkan Social Democratic and Labour Party

I thank Mr Byrne for that supplementary, and I am sure that the Deputy Speaker is extremely concerned with miles per gallon. I am also sure that he will be equally concerned about the prospect of an increase in his road tax.

This is a matter for the Department for Transport, and, at this stage, I have heard nothing to indicate that there is any potential impact on future levels of road tax. In a statement on 2 October this year, the Transport Secretary advised that Volkswagen users and taxpayers, including those in the North of Ireland, will not incur higher vehicle excise duty if their existing vehicles are found to be fitted with illegal software that manipulates emissions tests.