The think tank ResPublica urges in its report  Air Necessities: Place-based solutions to a pollution crisis that councils be given powers to levy charges on the most polluting vehicles entering cities.

They report that air quality is detiorating. Particulate matter has risen by nearly 1% between 2014 and 2015. And UK nitrous oxide levels are on course to miss EU reduction targets by 2020.

The UK's poor air quality has a high cost: an estimated 40,000 premature deaths and £2.7bn in lost productivity.

ResPublica recommends that councils be given powers to create more clean air zones like Southampton, so they can charge the most polluting vehicles. The cash raised should then be used, for example, to issue vouchers or low-cost loans for:

  • supporting conversion of cars and taxis to gas (LPG)
  • supporting less well off members of the public to acquire bicycles
  • encouraging use of public transport