New petrol and diesel cars are set to be banned from 2040 as part of the Government’s latest air quality plan, which includes a proposed consultation on a ‘targeted’ diesel scrappage scheme.
Under a High Court ruling last year, which found the Government’s existing proposals to tackle air pollution to be illegal, ministers were required to publish a new plan by the end of this month.
Under this latest plan, the most polluted cities outside London will be expected to implement Clean Air Zones that charge drivers of the most polluting vehicles by the end of 2019, but ministers have urged them to try other measures first such as retrofitting vehicles, changing road layouts and removing speed humps.
A new £255m fund will help pay for implementation, with £40m to be ‘made available immediately’ to help councils.
The Government also pledged to establish a Clean Air Fund, which will allow local authorities to bid for additional money to support the implementation of measures to improve air quality.
A Government spokesman said: ‘Poor air quality is the biggest environmental risk to public health in the UK and this Government is determined to take strong action in the shortest time possible.
‘That is why we are providing councils with new funding to accelerate development of local plans.’
Ministers have identified 81 major roads in 17 towns and cities where urgent action is required because they are in breach of EU regulations on nitrogen dioxide pollution, which mainly comes from road transport.
AA spokesman Jack Cousens said the organisation was pleased to see a diesel scrappage scheme floated.
He said: ‘The ambition to stop the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2040 is a step in the right direction. But there are plenty of factors that need to be addressed along the way.
‘Eight out of 10 drivers say they want clean air, but they are sceptical that, should Clean Air Zones be implemented in cities across the UK, they would be introduced fairly as car drivers are not the only source of air pollution.
‘Clean Air Zones should be the port of last resort, rather than the position of first response.’