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The banning of the sale of petrol, diesel and hybrid cars and vans could be brought forward to 2032, transport secretary Grant Shapps said.

Last week, the Government announced its intention to bring the ban forward from 2040 to 2035, subject to the consultation, but Shapps told the BBC the ban could come into force in 12 years’ time.

A 2032 ban would match Scotland’s stated ambition to phase out the sale of petrol and diesel vans by then.

Air Pollution

A Department for Transport (DfT) spokesman said: “We are consulting on a range of possible dates to bring forward the end to the sale of petrol and diesel cars and vans. The consultation proposal for this is 2035 – or earlier if a faster transition appears feasible – as well as including hybrids for the first time.”

Responding to Shapps’ latest statement, Edmund King, the AA’s president, said: “A week may be a long time in politics but potentially shifting the ban three years earlier does not give a long time for manufactures, infrastructure providers, lease companies and indeed drivers to gear up for the green revolution. We know drivers support measures to clean up air quality and reduce CO2 emissions but these already stretched targets, potentially being stretched further, might be considered mission impossible.”

King also called for a u-turn on the hybrid ban. “We still believe including state of the art plug-in hybrids in the ban when manufacturers are also spending billions on developing these vehicles, which are zero emissions for many journeys, is really short-sighted,” he added, concluding: “Ironically, demonising hybrids, like diesels, could mean some drivers choose not to buy a hybrid in the interim but hang onto their older more polluting vehicles for longer.”