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UK diesel car owners could face a tax hike to tackle air pollution

Diesel car owners could face a tax hike in order to tackle the rising problem of air pollution, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has indicated.

McLoughlin said that it had been a mistake for former Prime Minister Gordon Brown to cut taxes on diesel.

In an interview with the Evening Standard, McLoughlin said: "We have got to look at that. It is something the chancellor will need to look at in due course.

"It's something that we've got to address. We are addressing it through the government's air quality strategy, and by putting money into public transport like the Elizabeth line."

The decision by Brown to cut taxes on diesel had led to a rise in the number of cars releasing nitrogen oxide across the UK. The duty on low sulphur diesel was cut by 3p in Brown's 2001 Budget.

It is estimated that 9,400 Londoners die prematurely each year due to the level of pollution in the city.

Last year the government reaffirmed the UK's commitment for almost all cars and vans to be zero emission by 2050 at the Paris climate conference.

The move to hike taxes for diesel cars is unlikely to be welcomed by biodiesel producers.

Lobby group Fair Fuel UK have warned it would be unfair to increase tax on those driving diesel cars in a bid to cut nitrogen oxide pollution, after previous governments encouraged families and businesses to swap their petrol cars for low-carbon alternatives.