SEE STORY: Toxic traffic fumes to blight Bradford until at least 2021

FOR more than a decade drivers were told to buy diesel.

Diesel cars were cheaper to run, thanks, in part, to cuts in fuel duty, produced less carbon dioxide, a primary cause of global warming, and offered better mpg.

Unsurprisingly, millions of motorists heeded the Government’s words and made the switch. The number of diesels on UK roads soared.

But the diesel dream has turned into a nightmare. The smoke spewing out of diesel car exhaust pipes contains particulate soot linked to a variety of diseases, including cardiopulmonary disease and even cancer.

Air pollution figures released today show the scale of the problem: Bradford will suffer illegal rates of toxic air pollution until at least 2021.

Nine nurseries and schools in Bradford are already within 150 metres of a road where the level of nitrogen dioxide from diesel traffic exceeds the legal limit.

We agree that something needs to be done, but not by penalising innocent drivers who bought diesel cars in good faith at the urging of a previous Government.

A joined up clean air scheme would see road improvements to tackle congestion, removal of speed bumps (a major cause of pollution), incentives to buy greener vehicles and a genuine attempt at creating a national electric vehicle recharging network. We also need more park and ride schemes to get cars out of city centres and a clampdown on dirty lorries and buses.

Clean air charging zones – such as London’s forthcoming toxin charge – should be a policy of last resort not the default position.