Diesel drivers to get compensation to scrap or fix their cars
Diesel drivers will get cash handouts to scrap their old diesel cars or “retrofix” the polluting vehicles, under new Tory plans.
The Government will make the announcement on Friday as part of its air quality strategy.
Retrofixing will involve modifying older diesel cars to cut down the amount of toxic nitrous oxide they produce.
But the Government will warn local authorities against imposing pollution taxes on motorists because they fear that doing so would be seen as punishing motorists and would go down badly in the run up to the election.
The Daily Telegraph reports that the move comes after Prime Minister said last month that she was “very conscious” that motorists had previously been encouraged to buy diesel as a way of cutting carbon emissions.
The Government lost a legal case against environmental campaigners ClientEarth over breaches of EU emissions standards, forcing it to come up with tough plans to cut diesel emissions, and to reveal them.
A High Court judge last week threw out an application for publication of the plans to be delayed until after the General Election.
There had been fears that diesel drivers would be targeted with charges of up to £25 a day to enter "clean air zones" in seven towns and cities, including Leeds, Nottingham, Southampton and Derby.
Councils will still have the authority to levy pollution charges, but have been warned they must do so only as a last resort.
Instead of taxes, they will be urged to speed up traffic flow, by actions such as removing speed bumps and ensuring that traffic lights are green when drivers keep to the speed limit.
This is aimed at preventing constant changes in speed, which greatly increases diesel emissions.
Under the scrappage plans, only older cars will qualify and they must be registered at an address in an area where pollution is deemed to be highest.
A scheme in 2009 offered £2,000 for those who traded in their old cars – £1,000 from manufacturers and £1,000 from government.
The retrofitting scheme will be mostly aimed at vans and other more polluting vehicles.
Drivers would be given grants to adapt exhausts to lower emission levels.
The number of diesel vehicles on UK roads is now over 10 million.
The last Labour government cut fuel duty on diesel to encourage a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from petrol cars.
It later emerged that diesels give off harmful nitrogen dioxide, which can raise the risk of strokes, heart attacks and asthma.
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