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Diesel scrappage scheme could be launched this year

Robin Bowman

Robin Bowman
Feb 3, 2017

Owners of diesel cars may be offered discounts on alternative greener vehicles under a new government scheme, it’s reported.

The scrappage scheme could be introduced within months as part of a strategy to slash toxic emissions and improve air quality throughout the country, it’s understood.


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Officials at the Department of Transport and Environment have put together the proposals and have already held discussions with the Treasury over the level of discounts that will be offered.

The oldest and so most polluting diesel models will be the main target.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling is understood to have told industry figures that he supports such a scheme so long as it is correctly targeted.

The minister also said he wants to see an expansion of electric cars and charging points. Mr Grayling has said that high pollution levels were something ministers "have to deal with now".

He told the House of Commons: "We have to find the right way to migrate the nature of the cars on our roads and the vehicles on our roads to a point where they cause much less of a pollution problem than they do at the moment."

Last month, several London boroughs reported toxic air quality levels, and the capital’s mayor called on people to stay indoors and put off exercise until the levels fell. 

Westminster council has brought in a 50% surcharge for diesel owners to park in an attempt to deter them from the borough.   

Mr Grayling told the BBC: "The irony is that a decade ago, because of concerns about carbon emissions there was a drive towards diesel that we now know has a different set of negative effects and the department for the environment is currently preparing, and will launch shortly, our strategy to tackle the diesel problem to the next level. 

“There is no question that in the future we are going to have to move to lower emission vehicles. We need to do it soon I would like to see a migration of people away from current technologies to lower emission technologies. We are providing incentives to do that now and we will be doing more in the months ahead."

The Telegraph reports that MPs on the transport committee have been in discussion with the Department for Transport.

One MP said: "The department is looking at this in a serious way but it simply won't go far enough to tackle the real problem of heavily polluting HGVs, farm vehicles and ships."

Campaigners and the car industry support the idea, which mirrors a scheme by the French government to remove old diesel vehicles because of the high levels of pollution they emit.

Howard Cox, founder of the Fair FuelUK Campaign, which fights for lower fuel duty, said: "There will be a cost in any scrappage scheme, but in the long term the economy and the environment will be the winners."


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How the diesel scrappage scheme might work

Research last year by the RAC found that around 1.9 million diesel cars are in the oldest, most polluting category, according to international measures.

These account for some 17% of all diesel cars on the road, of which there are 11.2 million in total. And these older cars are responsible for 15% of the total NOx emissions from diesel cars.

Any strategy to get many of these cars off the road will cost billions of pounds.

Any scheme will probably be designed along the same lines as those launched in many parts of the world following the financial crisis in 2008 when new car sales collapsed.

The UK Vehicle scrappage scheme was introduced in 2009 to encourage new car or van sales. It offered £1,000 of government money in exchange for trading in cars that were at least 10 years old and had been owned for at least 12 months. Manufacturers also agreed to cut list prices by £1,000.

The scheme ended in March 2010.

Any diesel scrappage scheme would probably work in much the same way but be targeted much more specifically at certain categories of diesel cars, those deemed to be the most polluting.

It is also likely any scheme would be designed to target cities, at least initially, as these are the areas of most pollution concern.

The RAC calculated that such a scheme, along the lines of the 2009 one, would probably remove around 400,000 of the most polluting cars from the roads.

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