LONDON: Britain said on Wednesday it will outlaw the sale of new diesel and petrol cars and vans from 2040 in a bid to cut air pollution but environmental groups said the proposals did not go far enough.
Environment minister Michael Gove announced the move as part of the government’s keenly-awaited £3 billion (Dh14.38 billion or $3.9 billion) air pollution plan, which will demand that councils propose measures by March next year to reduce nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels.
The ban on petrol and diesel cars as well as vans follows a similar proposal by the French government, and will also include hybrid vehicles that have an electric motor and a petrol or diesel engine.
“The Conservatives had a manifesto promise to ensure that by 2050 there would be no diesel or petrol vehicles on the road and today we’re confirming that should mean no new diesel or petrol vehicles by 2040,” Gove told.
Britain’s High Court demanded that the government produce plans to tackle illegal NO2 pollution, largely caused by diesel emissions, and a draft report was published in May, but the full report was delayed by last month’s snap general election.
The government will provide local councils with £255 million to bring NO2 levels to legal levels, with possible solutions including the removal of speed humps, reprogramming traffic lights and changing road layouts.
Campaigners want cities to impose entry fees on diesel drivers, but councils will only be allowed to do so if no other measures are available, with ministers wary of “punishing” drivers of cars who bought their vehicles in good faith, according to media reports.
“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,” a government spokesman said.