WIT Press

A Social And Spatial Analysis Of Emissions From Private Vehicle Use In Great Britain


Free (open access)





Page Range

99 - 110




543 kb

Paper DOI



WIT Press


T. J. Chatterton, J. H. Barnes


This paper will describe a new approach to source apportionment of transport emissions that moves away from traditional approaches which have allocated emissions to point of use, or by journey purpose. Instead, emissions will be attributed spatially to the people responsible for cars that cause the emissions, highlighting how both structural features (such as poor accessibility) or lifestyle choices (such as a preference for large vehicles) impact on air pollution.

In 2010, the UK Department for Transport began making available data from the motor vehicle test (MOT) database. This data provides information on vehicles under 3.5 tonnes, including: make, model, engine size, fuel type and a date and odometer reading for when the test was undertaken. From these last two, it is possible to estimate an annual mileage for nearly every motor vehicle in Great Britain. Using this data it is possible to create both an emissions profile for each individual vehicle, and subsequently an estimate of the total emissions over a year. This data is then linked with a privileged-access dataset from the UK Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) to allow privately owned vehicles to be separated from commercial vehicles, and then to link vehicles to the location of the registered keeper via small area census geographies (~700 households, ~1600 people).

Using this data, we undertake an analysis of variations in responsibility for motor vehicle emissions both spatially, in terms of geographic spread and level of urbanisation, and socially, through income data and social profiles, created by the UK Office for National Statistics, for each area.


air pollution, car use, emissions, spatial analysis, car ownership, exposure