In Depth

New petrol and diesel cars to be banned by 2040

Councils to receive help from £255m fund to fight pollution

Plans are underway for the sale of new petrol and diesel-fuelled cars and vans to be banned by 2040 in a bid to improve air quality.

The move comes days before a High Court deadline for the government to publish a court-mandated plan to tackle illegal levels of the harmful pollutant nitrogen dioxide. Air pollution is said to cost the economy an estimated £2.7bn in lost revenue every year

"A £255m fund is expected to be unveiled to help councils speed up local measures to deal with pollution from diesel vehicles, as part of £3bn in spending on air quality," The Independent says.

Measures include charging motorists for entering "clean air zones", encompassing 81 major roads in 17 towns and cities where vehicular-borne pollution is in breach of EU standards, particularly from diesel vehicles.

"Ministers have been wary of being seen to 'punish' drivers of diesel cars, who, they argue, bought the vehicles after being encouraged to by the last Labour government because they produced lower carbon emissions," the BBC says.

According to the Daily Telegraph, councils will, "as a last resort", be allowed to impose "tough restrictions on the most polluting diesel vehicles as soon as 2020 to bring down the levels of harmful nitrogen dioxide emissions".

Former energy secretary Ed Miliband tweeted it was too little, too late in terms of delivering any reasonable health benefits.

France announced similar measures at the beginning of this month, setting the same 2040 goal in a bid to help his country meet its requirements under the Paris climate accord.

Car manufacturers have already embraced the future of electric vehicles. All Volvos new models will have an electric motor from 2019, while BMW has announced that a fully electric version of the Mini will go into production at its Cowley plant in Oxford that same year.

Diesel drivers could face £20 'toxin tax' in England

4 April

Drivers with a diesel vehicle could soon face a £20 fine for taking their car into one of 35 towns and cities across England, as the government pushes to lower vehicle emissions in urban areas.  

According to The Times, Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom will announce plans later this week to impose "toxin taxes" that will charge drivers with diesel vehicles a daily fee of £20 to enter one of 35 urban areas.  

The number of vehicles affected "could be as high as 10m", adds the newspaper. 

"Nine or ten" towns and cities with the highest pollution levels could also ban diesel vehicles during peak hours. 

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has already revealed plans to introduce an "ultra-low emission zone" in the capital in 2019. Drivers with older petrol and diesel-engined vehicles will be charged £12.50 if they take their car into the Greater London area.  

The move will affect cars housing engines that do not meet Euro 4 engine regulations, says AutoExpress, "broadly those registered before 2005". 

Those drivers will also have to pay the current £11.50 congestion charge, adds the site, bringing the total fee for driving a fossil fuel-powered car in London to £24.  

In February, Khan announced plans to introduce a £10 "T-charge" to cut pollution levels within the capital.  

The "T-charge", which will also work alongside the £11.50 congestion fee, will apply to all petrol and diesel-powered vehicles registered before 2006. It comes into effect on 23 October, but will be replaced with the ultra-low emission zone on 8 April 2019. 

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