The Government should end the fuel duty freeze and introduce a surcharge onto the cost of diesel in order to improve the country’s air quality, a think-tank has suggested.

Fuel duty has been frozen since 2010 and Bright Blue suggested the diesel surcharge should be called ‘Diesel Duty’.

The think-tank also wants an ongoing surcharge for Vehicle Excise Duty on new diesel cars in the UK, claiming that together with the tiered initial payment this would create a separate ‘Diesel Excise Duty (DED), for all new diesel vehicles registered.

In order to incentivise the uptake of electric vehicles, the think-tank suggested that ultra-low emission vehicles should be VAT-exempt.

Its calls for action comes as the think-tank published a report, Emission impossible? Air pollution, national governance and the transport sector, which claimed that a clear majority (71%) of UK adults reported that they were concerned about the impact of air pollution on the health of themselves and others, adding that a clear majority (69%) of adults agree that the Government should reduce air pollution below current levels.

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“Stronger evidence has emerged in recent years about the detrimental impact of air pollution to human health, the economy and the environment. Consequently, there is growing public and political pressure for tougher action to reduce levels of air pollution in the UK. The UK’s departure from the EU means that there is an opportunity to raise air pollution standards in the UK,” said William Nicolle, Researcher at Bright Blue and co-author of Emission impossible.“The UK Government needs new, ambitious legal limits, legal responsibilities and policies on air pollution. This country should aspire to be a global leader on yet another environmental issue, and strive to become the country with the cleanest air in urban areas in the developed world.”