British drivers face tougher vehicle hire checks after terror attacks

British drivers could face extra checks when renting cars and vans under plans to make it harder for extremists to hire vehicles for terror attacks.

The government announced the plans as police in Spain said they had linked three rentral vans to Younes Abouyaaquoub, the remaining main fugitive from the Catalonia attacks that killed 14 and injured more than 120.

Drivers' data could be shared by the rental companies with the government to be cross-checked against a terror watch list as part of the plans being considered by ministers following attacks in Spain, Britain, France and Germany.

"The threat from terrorism is changing and so must our response," a government spokesperson said.

Fugitive suspect Younes Abouyaaquoub's credit card was used to hire three vans.

She confirmed the Department for Transport was working with the police and the industry to look at "what more rental companies could do before an individual can hire a vehicle".

Khuram Butt, the ringleader of the London Bridge terror gang, had attempted to hire a 7.5-tonne lorry hours before the attack.

However, his payment method failed so instead he rented a white van which was used to plough into pedestrians in June.

Spanish investigators are meanwhile using rental data as a lead in their hunt for Abouyaaquoub.

French police are checking vehicles at Spanish border crossings. Credit: AP

A Spanish official said the 22-year-old Moroccan's credit card was used to hire three vehicles, one of which was used in Thursday's Barcelona attack.

Another was found in Vic, 44 miles north of the city on the road to Ripoll, where all the main attack suspects lived.

The third was found in Ripoll itself, which is where the manhunt is concentrating, along with a nearby town of Manlleu.

Scores of roadblocks have been added on routes in northeastern Spain while vehicle checks are taking place on the border with southern France.

Police believe the terror cell plotted to load the vans with explosives but had to change the plan after their house blew up on Wednesday in Alcanar.

The Spanish investigation is also focusing on a missing imam who police believe could have died in the house explosion.

Abdelbaki Es Satty is suspected of radicalising the young men in the extremist cell.