'Dirty Diesel' Drivers Face New Tax In Cities
Drivers of diesel vehicles face having to pay more in taxes and levies as cities around the UK strive to cut air pollution.
In London, plans to introduce a £10 charge for the most polluting diesel cars are being considered by Mayor Boris Johnson.
These could come into force by 2020.
The Mayor's plans for the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) are still subject to full consultation, but it is expected it will require diesel cars to be Euro 6 standard - no more than five years old.
Older petrol-driven vehicles beyond Euro 4 - more than 14 years old - will also be hit by the ULEZ charge.
The final figure for the ULEZ levy is expected to be a similar amount to the congestion charge.
The hike in motoring costs would be on top of the congestion charge, pushing up the cost to at least £20 to drive into the capital's ultra-low emission zone.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said that unless action is taken, London, Birmingham and Leeds would face dangerous levels of pollution from vehicle exhausts by 2030.
Diesel exhaust emissions are responsible for about a quarter of the 29,000 premature deaths caused by air pollution, according to experts from King's College London.
The number of diesel cars in Britain has grown to 11 million, nearly a four-fold increase since 2000, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.
This was largely due to motorists switching to diesel because of greater fuel economy and lower road taxes.
But diesel engines also produce toxins including nitrogen dioxide and particulates, which irritates the lung lining and can cause respiratory disease.
The Labour Party has reportedly planned a countrywide network of low emission zones that would push older diesel cars out of city centres.
Oxford has already introduced a low emission zone for buses and could expand this for other vehicles.
London Mayor environment adviser Mathew Pencharz told The Times: "We want to see an unwinding of incentives that have driven people to diesel.
"Euro engine standards on emissions have not delivered the savings expected, meaning we now have a legacy of a generation of dirty diesels."
All of these initiatives are being driven by the need to meet tighter European regulations on clean air and avoid the threat of heavy fines for breaching them.