RAC roads policy spokesman Nick Lyes said: “It is right that steps are taken to tackle poor air quality, however many motorists and businesses will feel worried that they are going to be unfairly targeted with punitive charges, especially those who heeded advice in 2009 to switch to diesel vehicles because it was considered the right choice environmentally.
“Demonising diesel vehicles as a whole is also extremely short-sighted. Some of the newest diesel vehicles on the road are also some of the cleanest, and diesels will also play a role in helping to reduce CO2 emissions, which contribute to man-made climate change.
“The Government should instead find ways to encourage motorists to switch from the most polluting vehicles to cleaner modern vehicles, rather than punishing existing owners. Changes to vehicle excise duty rates in 2017, where ultra-low emission vehicles will pay the same standard rate as a far more polluting vehicle after the first year, is certainly not going to encourage motorists to switch. The Government must also look to stimulate the modernisation of bus and taxi fleets, which can be the worst polluting vehicles in city centres.”