The focus of the proposed legislation is a reduction in road noise produced by the tyres.
Critics have suggested the proposals are impractical. As well as causing disturbance to people living near major roads and motorways, tyre noise has been found to reduce driver concentration, with consequent effects on road safety.
The proposed new system will involve either a flat-rate reduction in vehicle duty or a one-band drop to a lower duty category for both new and second-hand vehicles, as outlined in a report by the Transport Research Laboratory.
The idea is to introduce a check into the MOT test, with garages being required to check on the type of tyre fitted to the vehicle. Under the TRL proposals, tyres would be stamped with the words ‘low noise’ to prove they comply with a 71-decibel threshold, which would replace the current 76-decibel limit by 2010.
But John Dorken, chief executive of the British Tyre Manufacturers’ Association, is quoted as saying tyre manufactures would need to recoup the cost of producing ‘green’ tyres and pass at least part of the costs onto the consumer until production prices begin to fall.