More than half of British motorists believe diesel cars should be banned from some UK roads following the VW emissions scandal, according to a new study. And almost one in three (29%) backed the idea of barring the fuel type from all roads, while another 23% of respondents wanted restrictions within built-up areas and city centres.

The survey was conducted by law firm Slater and Gordon, which is representing more than 45,000 UK motorists in a group action against VW over the emissions scandal.

The national poll of 2,000 drivers found nearly four in five (79%) supported the idea of an exclusion zone near schools and hospitals because of fears about pollution.

The research found seven in 10 people believe exhaust fumes in their area are damaging their health, with one in five believing the car emissions were “very damaging”. More than 60% said they were worried about the quality of air their children were breathing.

Gareth Pope, head of group litigation for Slater and Gordon, which is suing VW over the emissions scandal, said: “For many motorists, getting an environmentally friendly and fuel efficient model was the number one factor for buying diesel. They wanted cars which were clean, green and efficient and are now starting to realise they were sold a lie and their cars don’t live up to the promise.

“This survey has shown that the VW emissions scandal, and revelations about what lengths the manufacturer went to cheat clean air tests, has had a hugely negative impact on the entire industry.”