Diesel car owners could face tax rises to tackle deadly air pollution, a Cabinet minister indicated today.
In an interview with the Evening Standard, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said it had been a “mistake” for former Labour chancellor Gordon Brown to slash taxes on diesel.
The decision had caused a “dramatic rise” in the number of diesel cars spewing toxic nitrogen oxide (NOx) in London and other cities.
“We have got to look at that,” said the minister. “It is something the Chancellor will need to look at in due course.”
Mr Brown cut the duty on low sulphur diesel by 3p in his 2001 Budget — a move unveiled shortly before the general election — and also reduced company car taxes on diesels, billed as a bid to help meet climate change targets.
However, although diesel engines produce less carbon, which is blamed for global warming, they emit up to four times as much NOx and 20 times as many particulates — minute particles that penetrate and damage the lungs, heart and brain. About 9,400 Londoners die prematurely every year from breathing the city’s polluted air.