Environment secretary Michael Gove is expected to announce plans to stop the sales of tradition petrol and diesel vehicles over the next few years in a bid to push Britons to buy electric or hybrid cars and will include new pollution taxes for drivers of diesel cars in Britain’s most polluted areas.
The proposal, which is strikingly similar to a French plan earlier this month, comes as the Government makes a concerted effort to reduce air pollution across the country as it threatens to reach even more dangerous levels.
Along with the ban, Mr Gove is set to demand that councils take measures to improve air quality along 81 of Britain’s dirtiest roads.
A £255million fund is expected to be unveiled to help councils speed up local measures to deal with pollution from diesel vehicles, as part of £3billion spending on air quality.
Air pollution is linked to around 40,000 premature deaths a year in the UK, and transport also makes up a significant share of greenhouse gas emissions.
It is thought ministers will also consider a diesel scrappage scheme to take the dirtiest vehicles off the road.
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, as part of an ambitious £3 billion programme to clean up dirty air around our roads.
“Our plan to deal with dirty diesels will help councils clean up emission hotspots – often a single road – through common sense measures which do not unfairly penalise 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.”
Environmental law firm ClientEarth took the Government to court over its clean air strategy.
Chief executive James Thornton said: “The Government has trumpeted some promising measures with its air quality plans, but we need to see the detail.
“A clear policy to move people towards cleaner vehicles by banning the sale of petrol and diesel cars and vans after 2040 is welcome, as is more funding for local authorities.
“However, the law says ministers must bring down illegal levels of air pollution as soon as possible, so any measures announced in this plan must be focused on doing that.
The news comes as some major car manufacturers revealed major plans to alter production in order to bring in more electric and hybrid vehicles, with Volvo announcing it will not be making diesel or petrol cars after 2019.
More than 170,000 traditional petrol and diesel cars are sold in Britain each year.