Sadiq Khan calls on Government to incentivise diesel scrappage scheme

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has called on the UK Government to incentivise a diesel scrappage scheme for the public, by offering up to £3,500 to businesses and low-income families to support the uptake of low-emission vehicles.

Khan, who has moved to double the investment into cleaning the capital’s air to £875m in recent months, has called on the Government to “immediately review” new vehicle purchases in the UK, almost half of which are diesel vehicles.

To alter this trend, Khan has called for the introduction of a voluntary diesel scrappage scheme. Under the plan, £3,500 would be paid to firms and households to switch from diesel vans and minibuses. A £2,000 credit scheme would be in place for low-income families to scrap around 130,000 cars and £1,000 payments would be offered for old diesel taxis.

The Mayor believes that a scheme like this would reduce London’s road transport nitrogen oxide emissions by around 40% and generate more than £500m for the economy.

“The toxic state of our air leaves us with no choice but to rid our city of the most polluting diesel vehicles. It is shocking that nearly half of new car sales in the UK are still diesel vehicles and the national system of vehicle excise duty still incentivises motorists to buy these polluting cars,” Khan was quoted as saying in the Observer.

“I’m urging government to immediately review this policy, and today I’ve delivered a detailed report on how it can deliver an effective national diesel scrappage fund. One that both fairly compensates motorists and rapidly helps clean up our filthy air.”

A series of unfortunate air vents

Since 2011, the Government has committed more than £2bn to accelerate the number of ultra-low emissions vehicles (ULEVs) on the roads. In particular, Khan views the vehicles as one of the main combatants to London’s spiralling air pollutions levels, which breached annual limits in just five days in 2017.  

Amidst an ongoing legal battle over the country’s “woeful” air pollution levels, the Government announced a further £290m to support electric vehicles as part of the Autumn Budget.

In July last year, Khan announced a wide-ranging action plan to tackle toxic air in the capital, including the implementation of clean bus corridors, an extension of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) and an emissions surcharge on the most polluting vehicles.

Despite new implementations, a diesel scrappage scheme could be the missing piece of Khan’s clean air jigsaw, due to its appeal to consumers. Alongside the aforementioned economic gains, a scrappage system could add 1.4 million extra years to the life expectancy of residents of London, due to the lower pollution levels.

Over the last 15 years, a variety of policy and tax enablers have seen diesel car sales in Britain increase from 14% to 36%. In response, it was last week revealed that the Department for Transport (Dft) is said to be working with Defra on a scheme which will offer cashback or a discount for people to scrap old diesel vehicles in exchange for low-emission models.

Matt Mace

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