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Revealed: Half of British Motorists Want Diesels Banned From the Road

Revealed: Half of British Motorists Want Diesels Banned From the Road

More than half of British motorists believe diesel cars should be banned from some UK roads following the VW emissions scandal, according to a new study.

Almost one in three (29%) backed the idea of barring the fuel type from all roads, while another 23 per cent of respondents wanted restrictions within built-up areas and city centres, in the wake of warnings over the damage done to health by diesel fumes.

A national poll of 2,000 drivers found nearly four in five (79%) supported the idea of an exclusion zone near schools and hospitals, over pollution fears.

The research found seven in 10 now believe exhaust fumes in their area is damaging their health, with one in five believing the car emissions was “very damaging”. More than 60 per cent said they were worried about the air their children were breathing.

In 2015, VW admitted fitting software to some diesel models to cheat clean air test - provoking a backlash among customers.

In a new blow for the industry, which has seen sales of new models tank, 40 per cent of drivers said they would never buy a diesel car again after it emerged many models of diesel were found to be producing higher toxic NOx in real-world tests than official limit.

In a sign of how public faith in diesel had evaporated, seven in 10 drivers said they believe diesel cars were “missold” to the UK market as ‘clean’.

Three quarters of drivers said they thought regulators should be given powers to immediately take cars off the road if they failed real-world emissions tests.

The survey was conducted law firm Slater and Gordon, which is representing more than 45,000 UK motorists in a group action against VW over the emissions scandal, to measure how motorists now see their vehicles following the ‘dieselgate’ scandal which has engulfed the world’s biggest car maker.

Gareth Pope, head of group litigation for Slater and Gordon, which is suing VW over the emissions scandal, said: “For many motorists, getting an environmentally friendly and fuel efficient model was the number one factor for buying diesel.

“They wanted cars which were clean, green and efficient and are now starting to realise they were sold a lie and their cars don’t live up to the promise.

“This survey has shown that the VW emissions scandal, and revelations about what lengths the manufacturer went to cheat clean air tests, has had a hugely negative impact on the entire industry.”

Morten Thaysen, clean air campaigner at Greenpeace, said: “Diesel cars have been fuelling a major air pollution crisis that has made our cities' air toxic and harmful to breathe. 

“Car makers like VW, which is the biggest diesel producer in Europe, need to pay close attention. Drivers simply don’t want the noxious fumes and health impacts that come with diesel vehicles. 

“VW must scrap diesel for good instead of investing more in trying - and failing - to clean up dated diesel technology. We need a rapid switch to electric by the car industry to help clean up our air and protect our climate.”

According to the World Health Organisation, 47 British towns and cities broke their legal air quality limits.

Will Hanrahan, a former TV presenter and investigative journalist on BBC consumer show Watchdog is one of over 60,000 motorists who have signed up to the group litigation against VW after two Audis bought by himself and his wife were among the 1.2m affected cars.

Will, 59, from Stratford Upon Avon, said: “We bought the cars because we thought they would be good for the environment but the irony of ironies is they are actually worse for the environment.

“Since the scandal emerged, VW and Audi have been nothing but arrogant about the issue. It’s a travesty alone that they haven’t even said sorry to unsuspecting motorists.”

The government had already announced plans to scrap the production of petrol and diesel engine cars - which is linked to more than 38,000 deaths a year globally - by 2040. But the study showed the more than half (54 per cent) of British drivers wanted that deadline brought forward.

Since the ‘dieselgate’ story broke in 2015, VW has paid out billions globally in compensation to motorists whose cars had been fitted with ‘defeat devices’, designed to cheat emissions tests.

But UK motorists are yet to receive a penny in compensation after VW launched a legal defence which claimed the devices were not specifically designed to control emissions.

Will added: “I’m surprised the government hasn’t stepped in and we’re having to take action against such a large corporation ourselves. It’s like David versus Goliath. If a builder installed 100,000 boilers that caused a carbon monoxide problem then the government would have got involved it would be a criminal case.”

Slater and Gordon is urging the 1.2m British motorists who owned a vehicle manufactured by Volkswagen, Audi, SEAT or Škoda between 2008 and 2015 with a 1.2, 1.6, or 2.0 litre diesel engine to join the claim for compensation for a percentage of the value of their vehicles.

Anyone affected by the emissions scandal can sign up at this site: www.slatergordon.co.uk/vw  or vwemissionsaction.com.