UK officials are reportedly drawing up plans to remove diesel cars in an effort to cut emissions and improve air quality across the country. The oldest and most polluting diesel vehicle in high emission areas are likely to be the target.
The Telegraph has reported that officials in the Department for Transport and Defra are drafting a scheme to offer cashback or discounts on low-emission cars if people trade in their old diesel vehicles.
Talks are said to have already taken place with the Treasury – which would finance the plan – and the scheme would focus on geographical areas around the country where pollution is worst. A Department for Transport spokesman has denied plans to introduce a scrappage scheme.
The country’s transport secretary, Chris Grayling, recently told the House of Commons that high pollution levels are something the country has to deal with now.
“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.”
Talks of a scrappage scheme come after London recorded toxic air quality levels around the city, forcing its mayor Saddiq Khan to call on people to stay indoors and refrain from exercising until the levels improved.
As 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 take tackling the diesel problem to the next level.”
He went on to explain that the future will require a move to lower-emission vehicles, adding that “we are providing incentives to do that now and we will be doing more in the months ahead.”
Campaigners and the car industry alike support the idea, reported the Telegraph. It mirrors a scheme developed by the French government to remove old diesel vehicles in a bid to reduce air pollution.
Howard Cox, the founder of the FairFuelUK Campaign, is calling for incentives such as in the French approach, and not taxes or surcharges. “Punishing millions of diesel drivers for mistakes in past UK government policy is neither fair nor honest. There will be a cost in any scrappage scheme, but in the long term the economy and the environment will be the winners.”