The government is considering a new postcode diesel scrappage scheme to target the UK’s most polluted streets.
Car owners will qualify for cash to scrap their diesel vehicles if they are old enough and registered at an address where air pollution is already at dangerous levels.
Transport ministers hope the postcode scheme will be cheaper than a universal scrappage programme for all diesel car owners.
Diesel cars ownership soared in the past decade, after they were taxed less than their equivalent petrol cars. Diesels increased in Britain from 20 per cent in 2005 to 37.8 per cent in 2015.
This was deliberate policy because diesel cars emitted less carbon dioxide (CO2) and ministers were under pressure to reach tough new CO2 emission targets agreed at the Kyoto climate-change conference. However, it ignored life-endangering nitrogen dioxide emissions.
Ministers are expected to unveil plans for clean air zones and to sanction extra charges for diesel drivers to enter some towns and cities in peak periods.
Diesel scrappage scheme should be “targeted and proportionate”
Conservative chairman of the environment Neil Parish says: “I know there are concerns about the costs of any scheme.
“That’s why any proposed scheme should be targeted and proportionate. It should be a key weapon in the armoury of the Government in tackling air pollution problems.”
He argues that the scheme could be limited to the 5.6 million diesel cars which were registered before 2005 and “geographically” targeted in “pollution hot spots”.
A previous scheme in 2009/10 allowed a vehicle to be scrapped for a £2,000 discount on a new car, with £1,000 from the manufacturer and £1,000 from the government.
New diesel scrimmage scheme should be “means tested”
It is anticipated that ministers will recommend the new scheme follows the same rules but that it should be means-tested.
Head of Greenpeace’s clean air campaign Anna Jones supports the idea: “A really progressive scrappage scheme will help kick start the shift to electric vehicles, as well encourage a shift to car sharing and public transport.
“Even the newest diesel cars are heavily polluting, and the majority aren’t meeting pollution standards. So they shouldn’t be promoted by government as a clean option in any scrappage scheme.
“To sort out this health crisis, we need to remove all diesel from our roads and transition to full electric.”
But Oliver Hayes, air pollution campaigner at Friends of the Earth, thinks the scrappage scheme doesn’t go far enough.
He said: “Neither taxpayers nor drivers should pay for clearing up the mess created by car makers who lobbied hard for diesel incentives and then sold us vehicles totally incapable of delivering the claimed cuts to emissions.
“Targeting scrappage schemes only at the worst polluting areas somewhat overlooks the fact that nine out of 10 air quality zones are breaking legal limits for toxic NOx emissions.
“Britain needs full-blooded policy to address its air pollution crisis, not a half-baked postcode lottery.”