If you bought a diesel car because of its lower CO2 emissions – and associated low tax rates – you might be surprised to hear that you may soon face 'clean air' penalties, as the Government struggles to meet new EU standards for air quality.

The UK is facing millions of pounds in fines if it does not meet stringent targets which are due to come into force in 2020. A new strategy paper released by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has suggested the use of clean air zones within congested urban areas, to improve air quality in 38 geographical 'zones' which are falling behind targets on nitrogen dioxide emissions.

Diesel vehicles in particular are being targeted, because of their higher exhaust output of nitrogen dioxide, along with particulate matter, which are both hazardous to human health and contribute to more than 50,000 premature deaths annually.

Motorists in London, Birmingham, Leeds, Nottingham, Derby and Southampton are most likely to be affected, as these areas require the most improvement if the Government is to satisfy the EU lawmakers.

As well as the potential for increased taxes or penalties for driving a diesel vehicle, owners may find their use restricted altogether in certain areas, as the DEFRA paper recommends councils in the most polluted areas “consider the role of access restrictions for certain types of vehicles”.

In addition to restricting the most-polluting vehicles, the paper also recommends councils take action to improve electric car and cycling infrastructure, as well as using newer, low-emission buses and taxis.

Did you buy a diesel because of its lower CO2 emissions? What do you think of the proposals? Let us know in the comments section below.

Daljinder Nagra


September 15, 2015