Such a measure, along with other greener motoring incentives, could help reduce the impact air pollution has on average life expectancy.
Experts claim that currently, it reduces the life expectancy of every person by an average of eight months but this could be reduced to five months if a series of measures were introduced by 2020.
These include tolls, congestion charging or other ways of making drivers pay for the distances they travel, according to The Air Quality Strategy, a consultation document on options for further improvements in air quality, produced by the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
Local Environment Minister Ben Bradshaw said: ‘Although our air is cleaner in overall terms than at any time since the industrial revolution, air pollution is not declining as quickly as expected. We need to move faster and take further measures to move us closer to meeting our objectives.’
It is the first time the Government has considered road pricing as a way of protecting the environment as previously it was hailed for its congestion- busting credentials.
The new report will come as a blow to fleets opposed to drivers having to pay for the distances they drive.
An RAC Foundation survey found that support for the Government’s road pricing proposals had waned, with less than 50% of respondents favouring a charge to drive on the roads (Fleet NewsNet, March 21).
One of the main reasons given by motorists was that they do not trust governments to operate a fair charging system.
Fleets also called on Government for a cohesive approach to national road pricing, saying different systems operating in cities across the country would cause them an administrative nightmare.