The UK government plans to pay owners of older diesel cars to scrap them, in a bid to counter pollution, according to newspaper reports.
A diesel scrappage scheme will form part of a new strategy to improve air quality after Europe said UK proposals did not go far enough in curbing pollution.
According to reports, ministers might opt for a scheme that paid drivers up to £2,000 towards a new, cleaner car.
However, it is likely to be restricted to certain drivers to minimise costs. Among the options on the table are limiting payments to owners living in the areas with the worst pollution, or to those on low incomes.
An announcement to the effect is expected in the coming days. Diesel cars spewed nitrogen oxides linked to lung conditions such as asthma, with older models said to be highly polluting.
According to the European Environment Agency, the UK recorded around 12,000 premature deaths linked to nitrogen dioxide in 2013, the second-highest total in Europe after Italy.
There were around 11.2 million diesel cars on UK roads, 17 per cent of which were over 12 years old.
The plan has received support from Neil Parish, chair of the Commons environment committee. He is expected to use a parliamentary debate tomorrow to raise the proposal.
Parish will tell ministers the government should consider implementing the scrappage scheme to help target emissions.
However, according to government insiders the idea of a scrappage scheme had been 'agreed in principle' to encourage drivers of the most polluting vehicles to swap them for models with cleaner engines, The Daily Mail reported.
Under the plan some drivers would be offered around £2,000 to scrap their cars, with the government paying half the amount and with car manufacturers offering the other half.
The costs of the plan are being worked out by officials at the environment department, the Department for Transport and the Treasury.