Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin has signalled a possible reversal on tax breaks for diesel cars

Diesel drivers could face rising taxes as the government considers reversing fuel duty cuts introduced in 2001.

Speaking to the London Evening Standard, transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said reversing the tax breaks is “something the chancellor will need to look at in due course”.

Reduced rates of company car tax for diesel cars are also likely to be targeted. Both this and the reduced diesel fuel duty were introduced to encourage drivers into diesels for their lower CO2 emissions.

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“In fairness they [the government at the time] thought they were doing the right thing. The consequences of what they did was to bring about a reduction in carbon,” McLoughlin said.

In recent times, the ongoing emissions scandal has brought the negative effects of NOx emissions into the public eye. The tax breaks, which were introduced by Gordon Brown and helped to bolster diesel sales considerably, are now being recognised by MPs as a mistake, given the harmful properties of NOx, even with the reduced CO2 levels taken into consideration.

Despite experts forecasting a sharp decline in the sales of diesel cars following the emissions scandal, the most recent set of industry figures revealed a 5% growth in diesel sales.

A spokesperson for the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) couldn’t speculate on what effect the raised costs may have on sales of diesel cars. However, Tamzen Isacsson, SMMT director of communications and international, said: “Demand for diesel cars in the UK remains very strong, with registrations in May up 5% - ahead of the overall market’s growth.

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"British consumers still favour the latest diesel vehicles for their efficiency, performance and lower CO2 emissions, and the latest Euro 6 technology is helping to significantly reduce emissions.”

London mayor Sadiq Khan is also said to be looking at an additional charge in central London for cars, vans and lorries that contribute to pollution levels in the city centre.

Government consideration of tax rises follows calls from industry groups for a halt to diesel tax breaks and the introduction of charges for diesel drivers. However, it’s still unknown just how far the measures will go and how much more diesel drivers will have to pay compared with current taxation levels.

A spokesperson for the Department for Transport was unable to give further details on the tax changes under consideration, but offered the following statement: “As the Secretary of State made clear, improving the UK’s air quality and cutting NOx emissions is a priority for this government. That is why we have committed more than £2billion for greener transport schemes since 2011 as part of our air quality strategy, with £600m over this parliament to support the uptake of electric cars. We are also investing in public transport, such as the Elizabeth Line, to help make journeys cleaner and greener.”. It's likely that if the idea comes into fruition, we'll hear more in the chancellor's autumn statement later this year.

Join the debate


8 June 2016
The government in 2001 DID do the right thing - diesels should be encouraged because of their low CO2, this is correct, but ONLY if their other emissions are as strictly controlled as petrols - the tech has existed for this for at least 10 years, the EU and the UK government did not mandate it and THIS is the problem NOT diesel engines. If petrol engines had not been subject to ever tighter emissions regulations since 1993 everyone would now be berating them, but they were, its no different for diesels and I m fed up with so called "experts" over looking this simple fact and going on a diesel witch hunt.

XXXX just went POP.

8 June 2016
But tests show that even the latest Euro 6 diesels emit much higher levels of pollutants than advertised. The concept of 'clean diesel' is a myth.

8 June 2016
That's because car manugacturers ( mainly german and French) lobbied for relaxation.

8 June 2016
So now 'Demon Diesel' will be taxed out of existence? What will that add to the cost of anything that is moved by diesel powered vehicles? And isn't that everything?
Still, this government never saw a tax rise it didn't like, did it?

8 June 2016
OK Dave, I'll raise tax on diesels as they sell loads and we can blame Gordon for doing the wrong thing again back when Labour were in - and we won't reduce tax on petrols either.....





8 June 2016
The Government shows a lack of judgement (again), despite all the advice from all of us in the Auto Industry, presses ahead with encouraging diesel engine purchases. And now the public are to be made to pay for this mistake?....Nice!
Any one with half a brain (let alone industry experts), could see that Diesel incentives was not the way forward, (probably explains the Governments decision at the time - none of them have any common sense!), and yet they ignore REAL guidance and press ahead as usual.....trotting out the usual "we will learn from our mistakes" garbage, and expecting the electorate to pick up the cost of these gross lapses of judgement.
It doesn't really matter who was responsible at the time...if it is one eyed Gordon or spineless Dave, none of them have a clue and would never survive in the commercial world.
Glad that i have never been sucked in by the promise of 'clean' diesels!

8 June 2016
That this story emerges at the same time DVLA admits the new 'NO tax disc' system is costing another £233 million in lost revenues. I wonder what the folk who decided that was a good idea are doing now ? making predictions about UK meltdown if we leave the EU perhaps ;-)

8 June 2016
“In fairness they [the government at the time] thought they were doing the right thing" so instead of punishing them, we'll punish the people who responded to the govt's urgings and who also 'thought they were doing the right thing'. Yep, plus ça change.

8 June 2016
"In fairness they [the government at the time] thought they were doing the right thing."

Maybe they should've asked the US EPA, who would've told them that diesels emit much more NOx and particulates, which significantly worsen air quality as compared to CO2. The photos of LA shrouded in smog from the early 90s are now a thing of the past thanks to California's (and hence the US's) much stricter controls on pollution as compared to Europe's. Nowadays, we see Paris choking in smog from diesel while US cities are so much cleaner.

8 June 2016
So increasing CO2 doesn't matter now?


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