LONDON, July 27 (Xinhua) -- New cars powered by gasoline or diesel fuels will be banned in Britain from 2040, the government announced Wednesday.
It is the toughest measure ever in a government plan to see all cars and vans emission free by 2050.
The proposals by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) are part of the toughest-ever anti-pollution measures ever raised in the country.
"Today's plan sets out how we will work with local authorities to tackle the effects of roadside pollution caused by dirty diesels, in particular nitrogen dioxide," said the Environment Secretary Michael Gove.
"This is one element of the government's 3-billion-pound (4 billion U.S. dollars) program to clean up the air and reduce vehicle emissions," he said.
"Today's announcement is focused on delivering nitrogen dioxide (NO2) compliance at the roadside in the shortest amount of time. This is one part of our program to deliver clean air. Next year the Government will publish a comprehensive Clean Air Strategy which will address other sources of air pollution," a Defra spokesman said.
Town and city authorities will also be handed new powers to impose charges on the most polluting vehicles.
Local areas will be asked to produce initial plans within eight months and final plans by the end of next year to accelerate action. Local councils will also have to produce local air quality plans on reducing NO2 levels in the shortest possible time.
The "UK Plan for Tackling Roadside Nitrogen Dioxide Concentrations" produced by Defra and the Department for Transport outlines how councils with the worst levels of air pollution at busy road junctions and hotspots must take robust action.
"We are determined to deliver a green revolution in transport and reduce pollution in our towns and cities. We are taking bold action and want nearly every car and van on UK roads to be zero emission by 2050," said Chris Grayling, the transport secretary.
Air quality in Britain has been improving significantly in recent decades, with reductions in emissions of all of the key pollutants, and NO2 levels was cut by half in the last 15 years, according to the Defra.
Despite this, an analysis of over 1,800 of Britain's major roads shows that 81 locations, 4 percent of the total, breach legal pollution limits for NO2, with 33 of them outside of London.
"Air pollution continues to have an unnecessary and avoidable impact on people's health and evidence shows that poor air quality is the largest environmental risk to public health in the UK, costing the country around 3.5 billion U.S.dollars in 2012," added Defra.
Defra's new plans also include a new Clean Air Fund to cut congestion, improve public transport and help motorists move from diesel to cleaner energy.
A consultation on a targeted scrappage scheme to remove diesel vehicles off the road is also planned for this fall.
Britain is one of 17 Europe Union countries breaching annual targets for NO2, a problem which has been made worse by the failure of the European testing regime for vehicle emissions, added Defra.