BIG cars have been blamed for a rise in vehicle emissions in Bournemouth.

Total carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions fell by 19.5 per cent in the borough between 2011 and 2016. The area was responsible for releasing 0.62 million tonnes of CO2 in 2016 – down from 0.77 million tonnes five years earlier.

However, the latest data from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy shows that CO2 emissions from freight and passenger transport rose by one per cent, to 29.3 per cent of the total amount carbon dioxide released in the area in 2016.

Gareth Redmond-King, head of climate change at the World Wildlife Fund UK, put the increase in emissions from transport down to the greater number of large cars on British roads.

He said: "We’re aping the American market and more drivers are switching to unnecessarily large vehicles with greater carbon emissions.

"Bigger vehicles tend to be less efficient on fuel use."

Total emissions of CO2 in Poole fell by 20.3 per cent over five years in Poole, down from 0.78 million tonnes in 2011 to 0.62 million tonnes five years later.

Poole however bucked the national trend for increasing transport emissions, with a 1.4 per cent decrease over the five years, leaving traffic responsible for 30.4 per cent of the carbon dioxide released in the area in 2016.

Concern over air pollution from transport is one of the key drivers behind opposition to Bournemouth council's A338 new junction plan, with campaigners claiming the scheme will increase congestion in the borough. The council says the reverse.

Overall, emissions from transport increased by 3.5 per cent in the UK over the period. Domestic emissions were down however, thought to be due to lower coal consumption.

Households across the conurbation accounted for some 40 per cent of emissions, and industrial and commercial activity for about 30 per cent.

Overall, the UK reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 15.4 per cent between 2011 and 2016.

Jason Torrance, a transport expert at UK100, a network of local governments committed to promoting clean energy, called on the Government to take urgent action to tackle transport emissions.

He said: "It is expected that the Government will want to give local authorities more powers to tackle air pollution in the environment legislation next year.

"But without significant shifts on things like electrification of railway lines, cleaner buses and taxis, plus a shift away from car dependency by designing our cities better, this trend will only get worse.

"There is £78.5 billion of planned government spend on transport infrastructure in England to essentially increase road capacity. That will worsen the problem rather than decarbonising or tackling air pollution."