The commitment, which follows similar plans announced in France, is part of the Government's clean air plan. The Government stated that the pledge, which will also take in hybrid vehicles, was needed due to the unnecessary and avoidable impact that poor air quality is having on people's health.
The plan is expected to come with a £3bn budget to tackle air pollution, which has been linked to 40,000 premature deaths per year, according to a 2016 report from the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.
“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,” a Government spokesman said. “That is why we are providing councils with new funding to accelerate development of local plans, as part of an ambitious £3bn programme to clean up the dirty air around our roads.”
The new initiative will also include a £255m fund to help local councils deal with emissions from diesel vehicles on, particularly polluted roads. Suggested measures include changing road layouts, re-programming traffic lights and removing speed bumps to cut emissions.
Aimed at reducing nitrogen oxide levels in the UK, the strategy aims to usher in a new era of clean transport, but so far there is no clear plan for how older diesel vehicles will gradually be phased out. However, Ministers are due to discuss this later in the year.
Prof David Bailey, an automotive industry expert at Aston University, said: “The timescale involved here is sufficiently long-term to be taken seriously. If enacted it would send a very clear signal to manufacturers and consumers of the direction of travel and may accelerate a transition to electric cars.”
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