The Government has officially announced its plans to ban the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040, part of a bigger plan to tackle rising levels of air pollution and the effect it’s having on the health of the public in the UK. According to a 2016 paper by the Royal College of Physicians, pollution causes at least 40,000 deaths per year in the UK alone, so something needs to be done.

The paper was published in July 2017 with the opening statement “We pledge to be the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than we inherited it”.

But what does the petrol and diesel ban mean for us? Here, we explain everything you need to know about the petrol and diesel car ban. Find out how to apply for car tax online.

Looking to prepare for the ban? Here are the best electric cars available in 2017

What is being banned?

The biggest question right now is ‘what is being banned?’ – if the government is successful in implementing the policy, the sale of all new petrol and diesel cars will be banned from 2040. According to the report, it’s the governments way of doubling-down on the original announcement it back in 2011 that conventional car and van sales would come to an end by 2040.

Of course, the policy is a push to move the population from the combustion engine to ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs). While you might think hybrid cars are a good compromise for those waving goodbye to their petrol engines, we’ve got bad news; if the hybrid gets even a small part of its power from a combustion engine, it’ll also be banned.  

However, the policy only regulates the sale of new cars in 2040, so if you’re already in possession of a petrol or diesel vehicle, you’ll still be able to sell it on.

We may be using driverless cars by then anyway, if London trials work out. 

What happens to my car when the ban comes into place?

Contrary to the scandalous headlines seen by many online, the policy isn’t actually banning the ownership of petrol or diesel cars, meaning if you’ve still got one when the policy comes into play in 2040, you’ll still be able to drive it around.

Although with that being said, there will be some kind of targeted scrappage scheme encouraging those using petrol or diesel cars to scrap them and be rewarded with cash for a new ULEV.

According to the government report, the scrappage scheme will focus on “certain groups of drivers who most need support (such as those on lower incomes or those living in the immediate vicinity of a Clean Air Zone)” and not any Tom, Dick or Harry that still owns a petrol car, so don’t hang on to your old car just for the potential payout!

It’s not clear at this point whether there will be a point where it’ll become illegal to drive a petrol or diesel vehicle, but we imagine it’ll be the case by 2050.

Read next: How to buy and sell a car online

Will I be penalised for owning a non-electric car?

While you’ll still be able to drive your petrol or diesel vehicle around in 2040, there may be the possibility of penalties for doing so – much like with the T-Charge in London. The daily £10 T-Charge covers the same area as London’s Congestion Charge, but only applies to vehicles that don’t meet the minimum exhaust emission standards.

While it would make sense to expand this T-Charge to more areas and encourage users to ditch their high-pollution vehicles, the Government is keen to avoid introducing a policy that’ll tax users.

According to a source speaking to The Guardian, “the idea of charges were on the table, [but] there was no plan to force councils to introduce them, and that other measures would be exhausted first”.

Why in 2040?

Of course, 2040 is still a way away and some are wondering why the Government proposed a date so far in the future – especially when some places in the UK already suffer from illegal levels of pollution.

In its simplest form, it’s a way for the Government to signal to both the public and manufacturers the direction in which we’re headed, and to force the hand of manufacturers to work on electric car technology. In fact, a solid end-date may encourage manufacturers to accelerate development on reliable, long-distance electric cars.

Some manufacturers don’t need prompting though; Volvo is already planning to go all-electric as early as 2019, although that’ll include hybrid cars due also be banned in 2040.

2040 is also a significant year as it’s the same year that France has chosen for its policy to come into effect. Some countries want to do it much sooner though, as Norway is aiming to achieve the same by 2025.

However, while the 2040 ban should significantly improve air quality and reduce emissions, the Government acknowledges that more immediate action is needed to tackle the issue of unsafe paper.

According to the Guardian: “The government has previously said that relevant local authorities will have up to 18 months to produce their plans. In order to inject additional urgency into this process, we will now require local authorities to set out initial plans 8 months from now, by the end of March 2018.”

What changes will I see before 2040?

So, what is the Government planning to do before 2040 to make this happen? The first thing is improvements to infrastructure – specifically, the Government is investing £100 million into the UK’s charging infrastructure, bringing more public charging stations to the UK.

The Automated and Electric Vehicles bill enables the Government to “require the installation of charge points for electric vehicles at motorway service areas and large fuel retailers, and to make it even easier to use electric vehicle chargepoints across the UK”.

Once the infrastructure is improved, it should provide more of an incentive for the public to buy electric vehicles as it’s currently quite rare to come across a charging point on your daily commute.

There’s also discussions about how to retrofit old vehicles, like London buses and other public transport, to make them more emissions-friendly, along with improvements to road layouts, traffic lights and other ways to mitigate traffic build-up.

In terms of specific numbers, the Government has outlined the following:

  • £1billion – Ultra Low Emission Vehicles
  • £290million – National Productivity Investment Fund
  • £11million – Air Quality Grant
  • £89million – Green Bus Fund
  • £1.2billion – Cycling and Walking
  • £100million – National Road Network

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