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Diesel drivers 'pollution penalty'

Tue, 29 Jul 2014

DRIVERS OF DIESEL CARS could have to pay more in road tax or face additional levies to travel into city centres in an effort to tackle pollution, it is reported.

Major cities around the UK are considering bringing in low emission zones to force out older diesel vehicles that are responsible for higher levels of fumes, The Times said.

Almost all diesel vehicles driven into central London will trigger a £10 charge under plans being considered by mayor Boris Johnson, who will also reportedly lobby the Government to increase road tax on diesel cars to encourage motorists to move to cleaner vehicles.

The £10 fee, which would come into effect in 2020, would be on top of the congestion charge, forcing diesel drivers to pay at least £20 to drive into the capital's "ultra low emission zone", the newspaper said.

Only diesel vehicles meeting the Euro 6 emissions standard will be exempt, while petrol cars registered before 2006 will also have to pay.

Labour is reportedly planning a countrywide network of low emission zones to force older diesel cars from city centres, proposals which are being considered by more than 15 cities including Sheffield, Birmingham and Bristol. Oxford has already introduced a zone for buses and may expand its plans for other vehicles.

The initiatives are being considered to help meet European regulations on clean air and avoid the threat of heavy fines for breaching them.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said that unless action was taken, London, Birmingham and Leeds would face dangerous levels of pollution from vehicle exhausts by 2030.

Mr Johnson is expected to outline plans today that will take London two thirds of the way to complying with EU rules, The Times said.

The mayor's environment adviser, Matthew Pencharz, told the newspaper: "We want to see an unwinding of incentives that have driven people to diesel. Euro engine standards on emissions have not delivered the savings expected, meaning we now have a legacy of a generation of dirty diesels."

RAC Foundation director Professor Stephen Glaister said: "This isn't quite a mis-selling scandal, but for years ministers took their eye off the ball and encouraged drivers to buy diesels to help fight climate change. That has come at a cost: local air pollution. Today 10 million cars in Britain are powered by diesel engines - a third of the total.

"Part of the problem is regulation. In laboratory conditions diesel cars have met strict test criteria. Unfortunately that performance hasn't been matched on the road and now we have a significant health issue because of the dash for diesel."

By Dominic Harris, Press Association