Expectedly a £255m fund is to be unveiled to help councils speed up local measures to deal with pollution from diesel vehicles, as part of £3bn spend on air quality.
The Government is set to include the 2040 ban in a court-mandated clean air strategy due to be published on Wednesday, just days before a deadline set by the High Court.
The expected move to ban petrol and diesel vans and cars follows similar plans announced in France this month and amid increasing signs that the shift to electric vehicles is accelerating.
Earlier this week, BMW announced plans for an electric Mini to be assembled at its Oxford plant and following unveiling by Volvo to move towards the production of cleaner cars.
The Government was ordered to produce new plans to tackle illegal levels of harmful pollutant nitrogen dioxide after the courts agreed with environmental campaigners that a previous set of plans were insufficient to meet EU pollution limits.
It is thought ministers will also consult on a diesel scrappage scheme to take the dirtiest vehicles off the road.
Campaigners have demanded the final plans should include government-funded and mandated clean air zones, with charges for the most polluting vehicles to enter areas with high air pollution, as well as a diesel scrappage scheme.
Their calls for charging zones were backed up by an assessment published alongside the draft plans which suggested they were the most effective measures to tackle nitrogen dioxide, much of which comes from diesel vehicles.
But ministers have been wary of being seen to “punish” drivers of diesel cars, who they claim bought the vehicles in good faith after being encouraged to by the last Labour government on the basis they produced lower carbon emissions.
Air pollution is linked to around 40,000 premature deaths a year in the UK, and transport also makes up a significant share of greenhouse gas emissions.
A Government spokesman said:
“Poor air quality is the biggest environmental risk to public health in the UK and this government is determined to take strong action in the shortest time possible.
“Our plan to deal with dirty diesels will help councils clean up emissions hotspots – often a single road – through common sense measures which do not unfairly penalise ordinary working people.
“Diesel drivers are not to blame and, to help them switch to cleaner vehicles, the Government will consult on a targeted scrappage scheme, one of several measures to support motorists affected by local plans.”