Theresa May signals help for diesel owners hit by emissions charges

Posted On: 
5th April 2017

Theresa May has hinted she could help diesel owners set to be slapped with new charges to crack down on the most polluting vehicles.

Labour encouraged people to buy diesel cars in 2001
Credit: 
PA Images

The Prime Minister said she would “take into account” those drivers who were wrongly encouraged to buy diesel cars under Labour.

London will implement an ultra-low emissions zone in 2019 with other cities expected to follow it down a similar road, while the Government will publish its air quality plan later this month.

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Labour former chancellor Gordon Brown encouraged drivers to buy diesel cars in 2001 with a new lower vehicle tax.

Advice to the Government at the time was that the cars released fewer carbon dioxide emissions, while being a more economical choice.

But subsequent analysis has found the vehicles pump out killer levels of nitrogen dioxide, leading to accusations they have caused thousands of premature deaths in the UK.

Asked during her trip to Saudi Arabia about how new charges will affect drivers who were convinced to buy diesel cars in the past, Mrs May said: “Decisions will be taken when we produce that [air quality] plan.

“But I'm very conscious of the fact that past governments have encouraged people to buy diesel cars and we need to take that into account when we look at what we do in the future.”

The European Union has handed repeated warnings to the Government about Britain’s illegal air quality levels.