“Clean air zones” targeting drivers of high-polluting vehicles should be extended to more cities in England, the Commons environment committee has said.
MPs told more cities should get the enhanced powers being granted to London, Leeds, Birmingham, Nottingham, Derby and Southampton.
The powers permit cities to charge high-polluting vehicles to discourage them from entering the city centre.
The committee said tackling air quality was a priority.
The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affair last year outlined the plans to introduce five clean air zones by 2020, after a Supreme Court ruling ordered it to comply with European Union law limits on nitrogen dioxide in the air. These five are in addition to the existing one in the capital.
The proposed clean air zones will only affect older – mainly diesel – bus, lorries, coach-and-fours and taxis, but will not apply to private cars.
Separately, London’s mayor has announced that an “ultra low emission zone” being introduced in the centre of the capital from 2020 will apply to all vehicles, including private cars.
All six cities currently granted the enhanced powers were found to have the highest levels of nitrogen dioxide.
The government said the zones would both reduce pollution in city centres and promote the replacement of older vehicles with higher emissions.
The report from the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee said emissions had been declining significantly but there were 40 -5 0,000 early deaths each year in the UK because of cardiac, respiratory and other illness linked to air pollution.
Committee chairman Neil Parish, the Conservative MP for Tiverton and Honiton, said: “Only five cities … will have new powers to charge polluting vehicles to enter new clean air zones.
“Councils in the dozens of other English cities currently surpassing EU pollution restrictions must also be given the option of using such powers if their communities support action.”
The current plans for the zones, added research reports, imposed a “one size fits all” model.
It said local authorities must be given “greater flexibility in order that they can tailor measures to best satisfy their local circumstances.
“For example, cities may find it more effective to limit vehicle access at certain times of day or to target specific bus routes rather than adopt blanket access proposals.”
The Local Government Association told councils wanted powers to be able to enforce traffic violations, like illegal U-turns and box junction offences, in the same route London councils can, to combat congestion hot spot.
It also wants more promotion of cycling, strolling and public transport, and is calling on the government to fully fund the concessionary fares scheme and incentivise a move away from polluting diesel vehicles to non-diesel transport.
By Roger Harrabin, BBC environment analyst
This report joins a growing body of challenge to government air pollution policy.
People are outraged by auto firms cheating emissions tests. Mothers are fed up of hearing their children are breathing harmful air. Campaigners are angry that ministers have tried to water down laws designed to protect public health.
And diesel drivers are riled at being is the responsibility of running automobiles that government encouraged them to buy in the first place.
It took 400 years to clean up the capital’s air from coal smoke, according to a new volume – London Fog – by Christine Corton.
The government is being pressed to act faster to solve nitrogen pollution in all the UK’s cities.
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The committee also suggested 😛 TAGEND The government ensure marketing claims made by vehicle manufacturers were “fully accurate”, following the scandal surrounding the falsify of emissions by Volkswagen A scrappage scheme to provide proprietors of diesel vehicles that are more than 10 years old with discounts on ultra-low emission vehicles