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Drivers of diesel powered vehicles could face new charges and higher taxes in the future in a bid to encourage them to switch to cleaner vehicles and reduce air pollution levels. in Britain’s towns and cities.
Boris Johnson, mayor of London, will outline his plans today for an ‘air quality manifesto’ in a bid to get London’s air pollution levels two thirds of the way towards EU limits. He is calling on the government to help by raising vehicle excise duty rates and urging the European Commission to create a fund to help cities switch to electric cars.
The new proposals will see drivers of diesel-powered vehicles made to pay an extra £10 on top of the normal congestion zone charge in order to enter central London.
Many other cities across the UK are considering following London’s lead and creating low emission zones which could carry charges and penalties for diesel vehicles, with Mr Johnson urging the government to charge diesel car drivers more road tax.
The Labour party are keen to create a national network of low emission zones, which would prevent older diesel vehicles from entering many cities. This comes as pressure grows for city councils to cut diesel fumes and avoid fines from the European Commission. In February this year, the European Commission launched legal proceedings against Britain for breaching air pollution limits.
At present, at least twenty cities across the UK including Sheffield, Leicester, Bradford, Birmingham and Bristol, which suffer poor air quality, are looking at introducing low emission zones. Oxford created a low emission zone for buses this year which may be extended to apply to all vehicles.
In Britain, it is thought that around 29,000 premature deaths a year are caused by air pollution. People living in cities such as London, Birmingham and Leeds will be exposed to dangerous air pollution from engine fumes until the 2030s unless stricter rules are imposed, according to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
Due to government tax incentives, more people have switched to diesel powered vehicles in recent years in a bid to lower their carbon footprint, but diesel engines produce toxins including nitrogen dioxide, which irritates the lung lining and can cause respiratory disease.
The £10 extra diesel charge in central London could come into force as early as 2020 and would mean diesel drivers would pay a minimum of £20 every time they entered the capital’s ‘ultra-low emission zone’.
Diesel vehicles that meet the Euro 6 emissions standard would be exempt while petrol cars registered before 2006 would also be required to pay.