Westminster City Council has introduced a £2.45 "D-Charge" for most diesel cars in an effort to combat pollution in the London borough.

The charge will affect diesels made before 2015, which effectively means pre-2015 diesel car owners will see hourly parking charges leap by 50%. The charge will affect areas of central London including Hyde Park, Fitzrovia and Marylebone.

This is the first time a UK city council has penalised diesel car owners by raising parking charges.

For other cars, the hourly parking charge in Westminster is £4.90 per hour. But for diesel cars built before 2015, the hourly rate will be £7.35 per hour. The cost of parking for an hour and half in Westminster will cost the same as a full 24 hours' travel on the London Transport system using an Oyster card.

Westminster says the proceeds of the charges will be spent on sustainable transport.

The council has been planning to introduce the charge since January. Councillor David Harvey, Westminster’s cabinet member for environment, sports and community said: “Additional charges for diesel vehicles will mean people think twice about using highly polluting cars and invest in cleaner transport that will make a real difference in the quality of air we breathe.”

Many diesel owners have been dismayed by moves to discourage the use of diesel cars, particularly since previous governments had encouraged their take up through a variety in incentive schemes. However, diesel fumes are now believed to be more harmful to public health than was previously believed.

The increase in charges for most diesel car owners comes soon after London Mayor Sadiq Khan introduced plans to charge motorists in Central London on a per-mile basis.

The charge will work alongside the current Congestion Charge, but could replace it in the future.