In the war against climate change, the British automotive world will be seeing some major changes by 2040.
In a bid to improve the country’s air quality, ministers will introduce a ban on all new petrol and diesel cars today, which will come into effect by 2040.
Michael Gove and Chris Grayling will announce the bill today after it was forced on the Government by defeat in a High Court case on air pollution. That means, from 2040, drivers will only be able to buy electric cars.
While that all sounds great, there is a bit of bad news for road users, as the crackdown could also see the introduction of levies on busy roads for owners of the most polluting vehicles.
In just three years, from around 2020, local councils will be allowed to introduce extra charges on any diesel driver using one of the UK’s 81 most polluted routes if air quality fails to improve.
Diesels might even be banned at peak times, during the height of rush hour.
It also features guidance to councils including how to make public transport more environmentally-friendly, change the phasing of traffic lights, remove speed bumps and change road layouts.
No doubt, this will anger many diesel drivers who were encouraged by the last government to purchase the supposed ecological cars in a bid to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
It later emerged that the nitrogen dioxide they emit harms air quality.
Town halls will be told to do all they can to avoid hitting diesel drivers, who bought the cars in good faith, with punitive measures.
A Government spokesman said:
Our plan to deal with dirty diesels will help councils clean up emissions hotspots – often a single road – through common sense measures which do not unfairly penalise ordinary working people.
Diesel drivers are not to blame and to help them switch to cleaner vehicles the Government will consult on a targeted scrappage scheme – one of a number of measures to support motorists affected by local plans.
Overall we are investing £3 billion to tackle the effects of roadside pollution and supporting greener transport initiatives.
The new air quality strategy comes after ClientEarth, an environmental law organisation, argued successfully that ministers were not doing enough to tackle the issue.
Judges ruled the Government was breaking the law by allowing concentrations of nitrogen dioxide to build up in urban areas.
The Government also faces fines from the European Commission, which has sent Britain a final warning to comply with EU air pollution limits for NO2 or face the European Court of Justice.
Levels have been above legal limits in almost 90 per cent of urban areas in the UK since 2010.