Nissan welcomes ban on sale of petrol and diesel vehicles

A Leaf on the production line at Sunderland
A Leaf on the production line at Sunderland
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Nissan has welcomed news that the sale of new petrol and diesel veheicles will be banned from 2040.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove said the move was part of the Government's efforts to tackle air pollution.

He also pledged to work with local authorities developing 'value for money and appropriately targeted' diesel scrappage schemes.

Nissan was the first major car company to put its faith in electric vehicles and builds the all-electric Leaf at its Sunderland plant, which also makes batteries for the car giant's factories across Europe.

A Nissan spokesman said: "As the pioneer of electric vehicles, and having sold more than any other company in the world, we welcome plans that encourage people to switch to low or zero emission vehicles.

"In the future, cars will become an intrinsic part of the way we consume, share and generate energy."

Mr Gove's remarks came ahead of the Government's expected announcement of a £255 million fund to help councils speed up local measures to deal with pollution from diesel vehicles, as part of £3 billion spending on air quality.

The measures are set to be included in a court-mandated clean air strategy the Government published today, just days before the deadline set by the High Court.

The expected move to ban petrol and diesel vans and cars follows similar plans announced in France this month and amid increasing signs that the shift to electric vehicles is accelerating.

Mr Gove told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "We can't carry on with diesel and petrol cars, not just because of the health problems that they cause, but also because the emissions that they cause would mean that we would accelerate climate change, do damage to our planet and to the next generation."

Asked if there was no alternative to more wind farms and nuclear power energy stations, Mr Gove replied: "There is no alternative to embracing new technology."

Told the Conservatives had a manifesto promise against more wind farms, Mr Gove said: "The Conservatives had a manifesto promise to ensure by 2050 there would be no diesel or petrol vehicles on our roads.

"Today we're confirming that should mean no new diesel or petrol vehicles by 2040, and critically President Macron in France has a similar aspiration... and Norway wants to reach that goal by 2025 so we are, quite rightly, in a position of global leadership in shaping the new technology."

Asked if there is a chance diesel vehicles may be banned from driving in certain polluted roads or areas in the future, he replied: "Yes."

He added that outside London there are a 'limited number of roads' which have too many diesel vehicles travelling on them, noting: "What we're announcing today is a package, more than £200million, which will go to those local authorities in order to enable them to draw up appropriate plans in order to deal with some of the particular challenges they face.

"Those plans could include everything from changing the bus fleet - retrofitting buses so that they no longer emit some of these noxious fumes - but it could include, in specific areas, particular restrictions on drivers."

Mr Gove said it was up to local authorities to develop plans, encouraging them to develop 'imaginative' solutions.

Air pollution is linked to around 40,000 premature deaths a year in the UK, and transport also makes up a significant share of greenhouse gas emissions.