The UK government has announced that it will prohibit the sale of new diesel and petrol vehicles in the UK from 2040. Michael Gove, the government's Environment Secretary confirmed that its part of an overall strategy to see these vehicles completely phased out by 2050.
The UK government will fully support, encourage and launch initiatives aimed at helping motorists make the switch to the much cleaner and environmentally friendlier electric or hybrid cars. It was also revealed that under this new plan, local councils may well bring in charging zones for the dirtiest vehicles.
Gove also disclosed that the Tory-led government will make £255M available to local authorities so they can restrict diesel car use on polluted roads, improve public transport, road infrastructure and change layouts. In addition to this, from 2020 onwards a new pollution tax will be introduced and it will be targeted at diesel drivers who use congested motorways, and other busy roads in major towns and cities across the UK, such as the M4 and M32.
In an interview with BBC, Gove conceded that diesel scrappage schemes was not the preferred approach for the government, but added that councils may be allowed to use such an initiative if it is sufficient value for money. The Tory-led UK government has identified 81 major roads in 17 towns and cities where it claims urgent action is necessary because not only are they putting people's health at risk, they're also in breach of EU emissions standards.
The new proposal will firstly see local authorities attempt to reduce emissions by insisting that motorists driving diesel vehicles fit their cars with filters. It is expected that excessive levels will be implemented as soon as 2020 as a last resort to alleviate the harmful nitrogen dioxide emissions currently polluting the air flow in the UK.
A government spokesman expressed his empathy towards diesel drivers, and admitted that it was only a few years ago that authorities in the UK were encouraging motorists to use diesel vehicles instead of petrol. The 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 penalize 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."
However, the proposal and strategy outlined by the government is likely to be met with disappointment by the motoring groups who have lobbied for diesel scrappage schemes to be introduced, which would enable diesel drivers to receive compensation for trading in their polluted cars. The government has suggested it is open to holding a public consultation on a 'possible' scrappage scheme, with talks likely to be held in September.
Global environmental group Greenpeace said the 2040 deadline set by the UK is far too late, as it will mean waiting almost 25 years before action is taken to tackle the public health epidemic caused by air pollution. Greenpeace highlighted that Germany, India and Holland plan to introduce bans by 2030.