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Vehicle Air Pollution - Smoky Vehicles


The Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations govern the standards to which new motor vehicles must be manufactured, including standards for exhaust emissions. Vehicle exhaust testing has been included in the annual MOT since 1991. The Vehicle & Operator Services Agency (VOSA) carries out roadside tests on heavy goods vehicles and can ban further use of a smoking vehicle until it has been adjusted or repaired. However, only the police have the powers to stop a vehicle on the road if it is producing so much smoke as to be a hazard to other drivers.

Well maintained vehicles should produce very little smoke from exhausts except when they are starting up, accelerating hard or climbing steep hills. However, some vehicles emit dense plumes of smoke and may not meet legal emission standards. Such vehicles, sometimes referred to as ‘dirty diesels’, will undoubtedly create higher levels of air pollutants, adversely impacting on human health and the surrounding environment. Excessive smoke may be caused by poor maintenance of the vehicle or a technical problem which has arisen since the vehicle’s last service or MOT test.

The whole of Dudley MBC has now been declared as an air quality management area or ‘AQMA’, and the council has drafted an air quality improvement plan to reduce levels of airborne pollutants.

Reporting Smoky Vehicles

One of the objectives of the council’s action plan is to encourage the public to alert the council to any such vehicles so that appropriate action can be taken. The public can report smoky vehicles by any of the following routes:

Commercial vehicles such as lorries, buses and coaches should be reported directly to VOSA

All other vehicles including taxis, cars, vans, motorcycles and mopeds seen emitting excessive smoke with the Dudley Borough should be reported to the council. If outside Dudley please consult the appropriate local authority. This can be carried out in one of two ways:

Please download and complete the appropriate Word or PDF version of the application form first from the options below. Once done, submit your completed application form and other relevant documentation

  • By completing the Vehicle Air Pollution report form. The incident must be reported to the local authority in whose area the excessive vehicle emission was witnessed. The provisions of this internet page only apply to Dudley MBC

  • By contacting the council on 0300 555 2345 with the following details:
    • Vehicle type (e.g. taxi, car, van motorcycle/moped) and details (i.e. colour, model, make)
    • Vehicle registration
    • Location at which the vehicle was witnessed (road name and number)
    • Date and time of sighting
    • Company Name (if available)
    • You will also be asked to give your own name and address, which will be kept confidential, although this is not compulsory.

Please note that many diesel engines emit a small amount of smoke when started from cold and under heavy acceleration this is normal and should not be reported.

  • What Next?

    For lorries, buses and coaches, VOSA will contact the owner of the vehicle directly and arrange an appropriate course of remedial action.

    For all other vehicles, the council will firstly establish the owner's contact details via the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). They will then contact the owner in an advisory capacity to inform them that a complaint has been received and provide further information on how the issue can best be resolved. Taxis operating in the borough may also be contacted via the taxi licensing team to discuss an appropriate course of action.

    Persistent problems should be reported via the same channels so that appropriate further action can be taken.