BY the end of the decade car buyers will be able to purchase an electric-powered Mini.

Will the model that revolutionised 1960s motoring persuade us to ditch petrol and diesel engines in favour of ‘cleaner’ electric cars?

Soon there may be no choice. As part of plans to improve air quality Transport Secretary Chris Grayling aims to stop sales of petrol and diesel cars by 2040.

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By the time this comes in Mr Grayling, and most of his cabinet colleagues, will be in their late 70s.

It is laudable for ministers to plan a better environment for future generations but they’re failing to tackle air pollution now.

The Government should get the ball rolling by introducing scrappage schemes and clean air zones today instead of kicking the big problems into the long grass.

More immediate schemes to change road layouts or encourage people to leave their cars at home will be the responsibility of local authorities.

This is a bizarre idea. Surely cleansing our air is something that needs to be a national effort rather than a piecemeal affair which abdicates responsibility to councils.

Furthermore, if we’re serious about getting people out of toxin-producing cars then why isn’t there a joined-up transport policy to promote that greenest of vehicles - the bicycle?

A report this week noted the increased use of bikes in Darlington. This is great but like every town in Britain it is a long way from being cycle-friendly on a par with, say, The Netherlands where cyclists and motorists are regarded as equals and roads are built accordingly.

Finally, a word in Mr Grayling’s defence.

His electric car idea was first proposed a few weeks back by President Emmanuel Macron, of France. At least his recycled policies boast green credentials.