Residents will be encouraged not to buy diesel cars under proposals for more expensive parking permits for the polluting vehicles.
Permit holders in Edinburgh will have to pay an extra £40 on top of their parking costs if they buy a new diesel car.
But the city council has backed away from introducing a blanket levy, with the diesel surcharge not to apply to existing permit holders who have diesel vehicles under their latest plans.
Fumes from diesel, most notably nitrogen dioxide, cause around 71,000 premature deaths a year across Europe, including 11,940 in the UK.
A report to the council’s transport and environment committee said of the levy on new diesel cars: “It is intended that this would continue for as long as they own the vehicle and remained a permit holder.”
City transport and environment convener, Cllr Lesley Macinnes, said: “For years and years, the Government were going out and saying to buy a diesel car. That advice has now swung 180 degrees, but people are left with those diesel cars.
“There are a lot of people who are stuck with that and we have to reflect that. What we are trying to do is find a route through that where we recognise the fact that diesel cars cause serious issue, that we want to address it as a city. But we don’t want to do it in such a way that unfairly penalises those who bought a diesel car in good faith to carry on using it.”
The council proposals involve a flat £40 surcharge, regardless of whether the permit holder lives in the city centre or any other controlled parking zone.
Parking permits can be issued for two vehicles, but only one vehicle can use the permit at one time. The council estimates around 8,000 of the 24,000 residents permits in the city are diesel vehicles.
A public consultation by the council, which had 5,412 responses, found 43 per cent of people strongly opposed a diesel surcharge being introduced on residents’ parking permits. The survey revealed only 18 per cent were strongly supportive of the move, 14 per cent supported it and 16 per cent opposed it.
Cllr Macinnes said: “What we are looking at now is a structure that encourages people to move away from diesel when it comes to their planning decision, but it doesn’t unfairly penalise those people who are currently in that category. “Existing permit holders who change to a diesel car will have that surcharge attached to it. It’s about the choices that people are currently making, not past choices.”
Vice-transport and environment convener, Cllr Karen Doran, said: “It’s not a money-making process. It’s about encouraging people to have cleaner cars and a cleaner city.”
Encouraging drivers not to buy diesel cars will form part of the council’s vision to potentially restrict certain vehicles from the city under plans for a Low Emission Zone. A public consultation to be launched next month includes a radical approach, which would see vehicles being able to travel to, but not through, the city centre.
The council will also put more emphasis on electric vehicles.