Government plans to end the sale of new diesel buses: Is 2030 the best date?

The government has started a four-week consultation on its proposal to end the sales of new diesel buses in England. The consultation closes at 2359 on 11 April 2021.

Decisions about the sale of new diesel buses in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales are the responsibility of the devolved governments.

The government has already announced that the sale of new petrol/diesel-only cars and vans will end in 2030, and that all new cars and vans must be zero-tailpipe emissions from 2035.

The government has not specified the exact year of withdrawal as this is a subject of the consultation as well as the views on the:

  • impacts on different sectors of industry and society
  • barriers to achieve the proposal
  • measures to be used by us and others to support phase out

Major UK operator First Bus announced in 2020 that it had already shifted its new-bus purchasing policy to exclude diesel wherever possible, pledging not to buy any new diesel buses after December 2022, as part of its commitment to operate a zero-emission bus fleet by 2035.

The Government wants to hear views on:

  • the definition of what should be phased out?
  • when you think the sale of diesel buses should end
  • what you believe will be the impact on ending the sale of new diesel buses?
  • what you believe are the necessary conditions for a successful transition to a full green bus fleet?
  • what barriers, in your view, to achieving the proposals?
  • the impact, you believe, these ambitions will have on different sectors of industry and society?
  • what measures are required by government and others to support this phase-out?

UK bus operators have invested over £1.3 billion in cleaner and greener buses over the last five years, supported by £89 million funding through previous low and ultra-low emission bus schemes.

Most of these vehicles are hybrid or gas-powered and only around 2% of England’s bus fleet is fully zero-emission as of 2021.


The UK has one of the most ambitious approaches in the world to achieving net zero by 2050. The government has committed to “going further and faster to tackle climate change.”

With the need to limit global warming to well below 2°C, it has already legislated to end the UK’s contribution to climate change by 2050. Transport is currently the largest contributor to UK domestic greenhouse gas emissions, 27% in 2019.

New vehicles offer more than environmental benefits – with more comfortable journeys and a reduction in vehicle noise and vibration they provide an opportunity to attract new users.

The added incentive is that it is expected that zero-emission buses will achieve operating cost savings in the longer term, which can be reinvested in more frequent services, lower fares and other improvements for passengers.

The challenge of decarbonising transport demands a step change in both the breadth and scale of the ambition domestically.

In November 2021, the UK will host the UN’s annual climate change conference, COP26, where the UK’s leadership in tackling climate change, including in transport, will be showcased on a global stage.

To meet these zero emission ambitions and incorporate the Independent Committee on Climate Change’s advice on what is needed so the UK ends its contribution to climate change by 2050, the national bus strategy for England states we have this initial consultation on ending the sale of new diesel buses in England.

How to respond

Responses, by 2359 on 11 April 2021, do not require the completion of any forms or documents, but simply by email to [email protected]

or in writing to:

Diesel Bus Consultation Response
Green Buses
Zones 2/12
33 Horseferry Road

You will receive our regular news digest – typically weekly. We are serious about GDPR and we promise to take care of your data and will never sell it or pass it on.

Your Privacy

We and our partners use technologies, such as cookies, and process personal data, such as IP addresses and cookie identifiers, to personalise ads and content based on your interests, measure the performance of ads and content, and derive insights about the audiences who saw ads and content. Click below to consent to the use of this technology and the processing of your personal data for these purposes. View our privacy policy.