"That is why we are providing councils with new funding to accelerate development of local plans as part of an ambitious 3 billion pound program to clean up dirty air around our roads".
Still, the incremental steps the United Kingdom plans to take to achieve this target mirror the actions of a number of major cities, which have made a decision to tackle the problem of pollution on a citywide rather than nationwide scale.
"Despite the scale of the problem of illegal air pollution, we are presented today with further consultations and delays, a squeamish attitude to clean air zones, shunting the problem onto local authorities and no detail about the government's 2040 target will be achieved", said Shadow Environment Secretary Sue Hayman.
Britain's high levels of air pollution, estimated to cause 40,000 deaths a year, has come under close scrutiny in recent years, with London breaching its annual air pollution limits under European Union rules just 117 hours into 2017.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, was quoted as saying the current demand for alternatively fuelled vehicles is growing "but still at a very low level". He called for authorities to provide incentives for consumers to purchase cars that have lower emissions.
From 2040, drivers will be able to buy electric vehicles only - ending the near 150-year reign of the internal combustion engine.
Mr Gove told the BBC that diesel scrappage schemes are not the Government's preferred option, but councils may be allowed to use such an initiative if it is sufficient value for money. There is also the need to consider the legacy effects of petrol and diesel cars still on the road.
A new survey of drivers underscored the challenge as it showed just two per cent meant to choose a fully electric model as their next vehicle compared to 68 per cent who said they planned to choose a petrol auto and 21 per cent a diesel.
Separately, German carmaker BMW said it had chosen its plant in Oxford, England as the location to produce an electric Mini from 2019. "Germany, India, the Netherlands and Norway are all considering bans by 2030 or sooner", Ms Hamid said in a statement.
Climate change is also a reason for the plan to get gas vehicles off the road.
"The vehicle industry has proved time and again that it can hit demanding targets, but at the moment electrified cars are both more expensive and less usable than traditionally-engined ones", he said.