Transport secretary’s diesel car warning as Norwich battles air pollution

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling Jonathan Brady/PA Wire - Credit: PA

A war on diesel cars in cities like Norwich has been declared by the transport secretary as he insisted use in urban areas was going to have to change.

Questioned about what he was doing to tackle high pollution levels in Norwich Chris Grayling said they were funding more electric charging points and he expected the government to do more to try and encourage people to use low emission vehicles.

Last week the government issued an air quality warning in Norwich after a local monitoring site recorded the highest level on the PM 2.5 particles index. The measurement of small particles which are created in car exhausts.

Elsewhere Westminster City Council announced it would charge drivers an extra 50pc to park in a central London area in a bid to cut the air pollution.

Visitors in diesel cars will have to pay £7.35 per hour compared with the standard £4.90 from April 3.

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Questioned about Norwich's high pollution levels, Mr Grayling said they had announced more funding for electric charging points and claimed the government has 'one of the best incentive schemes in Europe' for low emission vehicles.

'I don't think it is just about electric cars. I don't think we should be technology biased. Some people would choose hybrids, some would choose electric cars. We need, as a country, to see a rapid migration of our car fleet over the next decade, particularly away from diesel in urban areas where there is now a legal obligation to do that.

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'So I think we just need to do as much we can as soon as we can.

'It is difficult to see how a lot of major towns and cities will be able just to carry on with as much diesel usage in their cities.'

Questioned about the prospect of a congestion charge like the one in London being introduced in other cities, Mr Grayling said: 'Some will choose to go down that road, I'm sure. There is no doubt that the use of diesel in urban areas is going to have to change.'

Norwich City Council hopes that by redesigning traffic flow within the inner ring road to divert vehicles away from the city centre, they will be able to get pollutant levels down.

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