Diesel cars could face tax hike to cut air pollution

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has hinted towards a tax hike for diesel cars to curb rising pollution in city centres

Diesel smog, haze, pollution

Diesel car owners could be hit with new taxes to cut air pollution, transport minister Patrick McLoughlin has hinted, while also saying the decision to promote diesel cars by the previous Labour government was a "mistake".

According to the transport minister, the growing uptake of diesels has caused a "dramatic rise" in pollution levels in city centres like London. McLoughlin said: "We have got to look at that," adding, "it is something the Chancellor will need to look at in due course." 

Ministers introduced new vehicle tax rates in 2001 which incentivised the uptake of diesel cars due to their lower carbon dioxide emissions. In 1994 just 7.4 per cent of UK cars were diesels, but by 2004, 33 per cent of new cars bought were diesels. A decade later, every second new car bought was a diesel. 

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Referencing the Labour government’s decision to incentivise the uptake of diesels, McLoughlin told the London Evening Standard: “Yes. In fairness they thought they were doing the right thing. The consequences of what they did was to bring about a reduction in carbon".

Though diesel cars emit less CO2 per km than their petrol counterparts, they also churn out toxic nitrogen dioxide (NOx) and particulate matter, which is linked with at least 7,000 deaths per year. Poor air quality in general is linked with 40,000 premature deaths each year in the UK.

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The transport minister also added that the Government isn’t only looking towards taxes to curb pollution. He said: “We are addressing it through the Government’s air quality strategy, and by putting money into public transport like the Elizabeth line.”

The Government recently revised the plug-in car grant to offer new buyers up to £4,500 off the price of their new car, and Auto Express recently reported how the Government is also considering a grant for business charging points this summer.

Should diesel cars be taxed higher? Tell us in the comments below... 

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