New diesel and petrol cars and vans will be banned in the UK from 2040 in a bid to tackle air pollution, the government has announced.
Ministers have also unveiled a £255m fund to help councils tackle emissions, including the potential for charging zones for the dirtiest vehicles.
But the £3bn clean air strategy does not include a scrappage scheme, calling previous ones “poor value” for money.
Local government leaders welcomed the funding but called for more detail.
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Local authorities will be given direct financial support from the government, with £40m of the fund being made immediately.
They can use the funds for a range of measures, such as changing road layouts, implementing new technologies or encouraging residents on to public transport.
If those measures do not cut emissions enough, charging zones could be the next step – but the government says these should only be used for “limited periods”.
The timetable for councils to come up with initial plans has been cut from 18 months to eight, with the Department for Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs (Defra) wanting to “inject additional urgency” into the process.
It follows the government being given its own deadline of 31 July after High Court judges said it was failing to meet EU pollution limits.
Other points include:
- The funding pot will come from changes to tax on diesel vehicles and reprioritising departmental budgets – the exact details will be announced later in the year.
- Councils could change road layouts, retrofit public transport, and encourage local people to leave their cars at home.
- A Clean Air Fund would allow local authorities to bid for additional money to put in more air quality control measures.
- A new Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill will allow the government to require the installation of charge points for electric vehicles at motorway service areas and large fuel retailers.
Local Government Association environment spokesman Martin Tett said the plans to allow councils to switch their focus from monitoring air quality to improving air quality was the right move and welcomed the additional funding.
However, he opposed the view of the government to hold off on a scrappage scheme, arguing “this immediate intervention could help increase the uptake of lower emission vehicles”.
Ministers have been wary of being seen to “punish” drivers of diesel cars, who, they argue, bought the vehicles after being encouraged to by the last Labour government because they produced lower carbon emissions.
The industry trade body, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said it was important to avoid outright bans on diesels, which would hurt the sector.
SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said demand for alternatively fuelled vehicles was growing but still at a very low level.
“The industry instead wants a positive approach which gives consumers incentives to purchase these cars. We could undermine the UK’s successful automotive sector if we don’t allow enough time for the industry to adjust.”
The AA said significant investment would be needed to install charging points across the country and warned the National Grid would come under pressure with a mass switch-on of recharging after the rush hour.
The UK announcement comes amid signs of an accelerating shift towards electric cars instead of petrol and diesel ones, at home and abroad:
- Earlier this month, President Emmanuel Macron announced similar plans to phase out diesel and petrol cars in France, also from 2040.
- BMW announced on Tuesday that a fully electric version of the Mini would be built at the Cowley plant in Oxford from 2019.
Courtesy & Source: BBC