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Government to penalise diesels?

Cars with a diesel engine could be penalised as part of government plans to reduce air pollution in towns and cities, it has emerged.

Proposals being drawn up by London mayor Boris Johnson would see motorists pay an extra £10 on top of the daily £10 congestion charge needed to drive in central London. Johnson also urged the government to consider higher tax for diesel vehicles.


20 cities including Birmingham, Bradford, Leicester and Sheffield are said to be looking at creating low-emission zones in a bid to counteract potential fines from the European Commission for breaking air pollution limits. 

The higher congestion charge would likely come into effect in 2020 if all goes to plan. Petrol engines registered before 2006 would also have to pay the higher congestion charge, while diesel engines that meet Euro 6 emissions standards would be exempt.

“We want to see an unwinding of incentives that have driven people to diesel. Euro engine standards on emissions have not delivered the savings expected, meaning we now have a legacy of a generation of dirty diesels,” the mayor’s environment advisor Matthew Pencharz told the Times newspaper. 

“People bought them in good faith and it’s not fair to clobber them. We think a five-year notice gives enough warning. People who drive in once a month might not buy a newer car whereas somebody who drives in every day probably would do,” he added, referring to the government’s tax incentives awarded to diesels in recent years. 

29,000 premature deaths per year are said to be attributed to air pollution in Britain. Health issues stemming from the inhalation of pollution includes asthma, kidney damage and heart disease.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said those who live in Birmingham, Leeds and London will experience dangerous levels of air pollution by 2013 unless regulations are tightened up. 

An AA report said the cost of diesel is subsidising petrol, explaining why it can cost as much as 5 pence more per litre. Another claims air pollution is more damaging to your health than smoking.


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