Diesel car owners could face a rise in the level of tax they pay for their vehicles in a bid to tackle air pollution in cities, a cabinet minister has claimed.
In an interview with the London Evening Standard, published today (7 June), transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said that cleaning up the capital’s air is something the government “must addressâ€?.
The newspaper quoted the minister as saying: “We are addressing it through the government’s air quality strategy, and by putting money into public transport like the Elizabeth Line.â€?
Commenting on the proposition for increased taxes on diesel vehicles, he was quoted as saying: “It is something the Chancellor will need to look at in due course.â€?
When contacted by airqualitynews.com the Treasury did not rule out the potential for an increase in taxes on diesel vehicles.
A Treasury spokesperson said: “The Chancellor reviews all taxes, and makes decisions on changes at fiscal events.â€?
Former chancellor Gordon Brown cut duty on low sulphur by 3p in his 2001 budget – and he also reduced company car taxes on diesel vehicles, billed as a bid to help meet climate change targets.
Mr Brown also brought in a new tax initiative rewarding cars with low C02 emissions, which contributed to an increase in the number of diesel vehicles on the road.
Diesel engines produce less carbon, which is highlighted as one of the main causes for global warming.
However, the vehicles can emit up to four times as much NOx and 20 times as many particulates that penetrate and damage the lungs, heart and brain.
In his interview, Mr McLoughlin suggested that the previous Labour government may have made a mistake in encouraging diesel vehicle use.
London mayor Sadiq Khan is also considering measures to clamp down on emissions from vehicles in the capital, and is due to consult on a range of potential measures shortly.
Estimates suggest that more than 9,400 Londoners die prematurely every year from illnesses related to air pollution.