Support grows for diesel scrappage scheme

A broad alliance of business organisations and environmental charities has backed proposals  from the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, for a national diesel scrappage fund aimed at taking the most polluting vehicles off our roads.

Last month, the Mayor called on ministers to implement his new plans for a national ‘dirty’ diesel scrappage fund that would financially compensate motorists and enable the government to get a grip on killer toxic air.

Diesel cars and vans – many of which were purchased in good faith by drivers believing diesel was a ‘cleaner’ option – contribute massively to London’s current toxic air pollution, said the Mayor’s office.

Currently more than 9,000 Londoners are said die prematurely each year as a result of long-term exposure to air pollution.

Air pollution in the UK is leading to 40,000 premature deaths annually, creating an estimated economic burden of £20 billion every year.

Now organisations including the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association, the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association, the Federation of Small Business, London First and Greenpeace, have expressed their support for the proposals for a national diesel scrappage fund.

In a letter to Chancellor Philip Hammond, they said: “We believe the Mayor has adopted a cost-effective approach that minimises risks and simplifies administration for government.

“The Mayor’s proposal seeks to rebalance the financial cost of improving our air away from the individual – unlocking significant emission reductions while reducing the cost for those least able to afford to upgrade their vehicle or change how they drive. This will enable the government to have greater confidence that it will fulfil its legal obligation to comply with European legal pollution limits as soon as practically possible.”

Last month, Mayor Khan delivered a report jointly developed by Transport for London and Cambridge Economic Policy Associates that provided the outline for a national scrappage fund and modelling which other UK cities could use to produce their own scheme.

Key recommendations included:

  • payments of £3,500 to scrap up to 70,000 polluting vans and minibuses in London  and a national fund to support charities and small businesses that often own older diesel and mini buses (approximately £245 million in London)
  • a credit scheme valued at £2,000 to help low-income households in cities scrap up to 130,000 polluting cars, with incentives for car clubs and public transport (costing approximately £260 million in London)
  • payments of £1,000 to help scrap up to 10,000 older polluting London taxis  and to help drivers switch to new zero-emission models (approximately £10 million in London).

Sadiq Khan said: “Our filthy air is a national health emergency and it is vital that the Government treat this crisis seriously and introduce measures that will cut air pollution and save lives.

“I am pleased that a broad alliance of business organisations and environmental charities are backing my plans for a national diesel scrappage. Now is the time for the Government to take urgent and decisive action to help get the most polluting vehicles off our roads in a fair and reasonable manner.”

Gerry Keaney, Chief Executive of the BVRLA, said: “We believe the Mayor’s proposal for a National Vehicle Scrappage Fund could make a significant contribution in reducing emissions by removing some of the oldest, most polluting vans and cars from our streets.

“The van leasing, vehicle rental and car club industry can meet these requirements and we would be happy to work with local and national government in introducing an effective and affordable scrappage fund for London and other cities.”

Steve McNamara, General Secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, added: “London’s black cab trade is committed to working with City Hall to address the capital’s declining air quality. That’s why from 2018 all new taxis in London must be zero emissions capable (ZEC).

“We fully support the Mayor’s proposals for a national vehicle scrappage fund, which will make it fairer and easier for drivers to meet the cost associated with decommissioning the oldest, most polluting vehicles, helping us to become the greenest cab fleet of any city in the world.”

The Mayor has made tackling London’s air quality a top priority and has doubled funding to be spent on tackling air quality to £875 million over the next five years.

His T-Charge, the toughest emission standard of any world city, will start in central London on October 23 this year.

Up to 10,000 of the oldest, most polluting vehicles are expected every weekday to be potentially liable for the new emissions levy of £10, which will apply to motorists who own vehicles that do not meet Euro 4 standards – typically those diesel and petrol vehicles registered before 2006.

He is also consulting on the introduction the world’s first Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) in 2019, and then expanding it to the North and South Circular Roads.