More than 10 million motorists who were “betrayed and misled” into buying diesel cars have been warned that they face higher costs as the European Union puts pressure on Britain to cut air pollution levels.
It comes as Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, announced plans to charge diesel drivers an extra £10 to drive in the capital – a measure that could be copied by as many as 18 other cities.
For more than a decade, motorists buying diesel cars have enjoyed tax breaks because the cars produce lower levels of carbon dioxide and are more fuel efficient.
Now, Britain is being sued by the European Commission for breaching air pollution limits, because emissions from diesel vehicles are contributing to tens of thousands of premature deaths each year.
Senior Conservatives are understood to be lobbying the Government to increase road taxes on diesel vehicles to bring them into line with petrol, although ministers have ruled out such a move in this parliament.
Motoring groups warned that new levies would hit drivers already struggling to cope with high prices at the pumps and lower the resale value of diesel vehicles.
Edmund King, the president of the AA, said: “Some drivers will feel betrayed and misled because they were encouraged to go for the dash for diesel.
“In the 1990s there was a near hysteria about carbon dioxide, and yet nobody looked at the bigger picture.
“The drivers thought they were doing the right thing, but now they are being told that it has serious health implications. They are being made to feel guilty for something that they were encouraged to do.
“There is no doubt that other cities, encouraged by EU legislation, will look to introduce similar restrictions on diesel cars.
“I think it’s highly likely that the Treasury might slap an extra penalties on diesel vehicles.”
In 2001, Gordon Brown, the then chancellor, overhauled vehicle excise duty so that cars that emitted a higher level of carbon dioxide faced a higher level of vehicle excise duty.
Labour introduced the new regime despite official warnings that diesel vehicles emit “10 times the fine particles and up to twice the nitrogen dioxide”.
The move prompted a “profound” shift towards diesel cars, which produce lower levels of carbon dioxide because they are about 20 per cent more efficient than petrol engines.
Over the past decade, the number of diesel cars on Britain’s roads has risen from 1.6 million to more than 11 million and accounts for a third of vehicles.
However, diesel vehicles produce high levels of nitrogen dioxide, which can lead to respiratory disease and has been linked to 7,000 deaths a year.
Frank Kelly, the chairman of the Department of Health’s committee on air pollution, said the public were still being misled about the benefits of diesel cars.
He said: “I have full sympathy with the public who have not been provided balanced information on this issue.
“Even today if you go to buy a new car you are provided with lots of information about its CO2 emissions and nothing in respect to the pollutants it emits.
“The whole scenario is a very good example of why government policy needs to founded on best science available – not just one aspect, as it was in this case.”
Prof Stephen Glaister, the director of the RAC Foundation, said: “Buying a car is one of the biggest purchases people make.
“Drivers do not want to go to the garage one morning only to find what was previously worth a lot of money has plummeted in value overnight because politicians have suddenly moved the goalposts. People with the oldest, dirtiest diesels will feel the financial squeeze most. They face paying more to use their cars and getting less for them when they try to sell.”
According to official figures, some 18 cities across Britain will fail to meet EU clean air targets for nitrogen dioxide emissions by the end of the decade.
Bristol, Birmingham and Leicester are all considering introducing levies for diesel cars to cut emissions, while Labour is considering plans for a national network of low emission zones in cities that would limit access for diesel vehicles.
There are growing fears that the charges could affect vehicles including school buses and hearses.
In London, only diesel vehicles that meet the Euro 6 emissions standard will be exempted from the charge.
Matthew Pencharz, the Mayor of London’s environment adviser, suggested that successive governments are to blame for a “generation of dirty diesels”.
He added: “These measures can help us to meet EU emission limits ten years ahead of government projections and will deliver significant health benefits to all Londoners.”
The latest government statistics show that in 2011, the nation’s 28.5 million cars emitted 150,000 tons of nitrogen oxides, but a further 97,000 tons were given off by just 400,000 HGVs.
Government sources said rates of vehicle excise duty are unlikely to change for diesel vehicles.
via Diesel car drivers ‘betrayed’ as EU cracks down on Britain over air pollution – Telegraph.
Yet another con by the rip off Britain Government, if taxes increase we should be compensated for this miss selling scandal just as we were for the PPI miss selling