Cars

New diesel and petrol vehicles to be banned from 2040 in UK

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New diesel and petrol cars and vans will be banned in the UK from 2040 in a bid to tackle air pollution, the government is set to announce.

Ministers are to unveil a £255m fund to help councils introduce steps to deal with pollution from diesel vehicles as part of £3bn spending on air quality.

The government will publish a court-mandated clean air strategy later, days before a High Court deadline.

Campaigners said the measures were promising, but more detail was needed.

The government was ordered by the courts to produce new plans to tackle illegal levels of harmful pollutant nitrogen dioxide.

Electric Mini

It came after the courts agreed with environmental campaigners that previous plans were insufficient to meet EU pollution limits.

Ministers had to set out their draft clean air strategy plans in May with the final measures due by 31 July.

Local measures could include retrofitting buses and other transport to make them cleaner, changing road layouts, altering features such as speed humps and re-programming traffic lights to make vehicle-flow smoother.

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 will be built at the Cowley plant in Oxford from 2019.

And Volvo has said all new models will have an electric motor from the same year.

Air pollution is thought to be linked to about 40,000 premature deaths a year in the UK, and transport also contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.

Public health risk

A government spokesman said poor air quality was “the biggest environmental risk” to public health in the UK.

“This government is determined to take strong action in the shortest time possible,” he 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 penalise ordinary working people.

Environmental law firm ClientEarth, which took the government to court over its clean air strategy, welcomed the measures, but said it wanted to see more detail.

Its chief executive James Thornton said: “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.”

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