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End of the road for petrol and diesel cars?

The Government has unveiled a proposal to end the sale of all new conventional petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040, as part of plans to improve air quality.

“We are determined to deliver a green revolution in transport and reduce pollution in our towns and cities,” Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said. “We are taking bold action and want nearly every car and van on UK roads to be zero emission by 2050 which is why we’ve committed to investing more than £600 million in the development, manufacture and use of ultra-low emission vehicles by 2020.”

The UK Plan for Tackling Roadside Nitrogen Dioxide Concentrations, produced by Defra and the Department for Transport, also outlines how councils with the worst levels of air pollution at busy road junctions and hotspots must take robust action. A £255 million fund will be made available for all immediate work required to deliver plans within eight months to address poor air quality in the shortest time possible

Local authorities will also be able to bid for money from a new Clean Air Fund to support improvements which will reduce the need for restrictions on polluting vehicles. This could include changing road layouts, removing traffic lights and speed humps, or upgrading bus fleets.

Chris Grayling added: “If these measures are not sufficient to ensure legal compliance, local authorities may also need to consider restrictions on polluting vehicles using affected roads. This could mean preventing polluting vehicles using some of these roads at certain times of the day or introducing charging, as the Mayor of London has already announced. The Government is clear that local authorities should exhaust other options before opting to impose charging. Any restrictions or charging on polluting vehicles should be time-limited and lifted as soon as air pollution is within legal limits and the risk of future breaches has passed.”

The Government will issue a consultation in the autumn to gather views on measures to support motorists, residents and businesses affected by local plans – such as retrofitting, subsidised car club memberships, exemptions from any vehicles restrictions, or a targeted scrappage scheme for car and van drivers.

“These plan sets out how we will work with local authorities to tackle the effects of roadside pollution caused by dirty diesels, in particular nitrogen dioxide,” Environment Secretary Michael Gove said. “This is one element of the government’s £3 billion programme to clean up the air and reduce vehicle emissions.”