LONDON April 17: Cash payments to persuade drivers who live in pollution hotspots to give up their diesel cars may be part of a new scrappage scheme under the government’s air quality plans, due to be published in the next week.
Downing Street has been mulling the idea after being forced to produce a new air quality plan after a court ruling, which said existing proposals to meet EU-mandated air quality limits were insufficient.
Under the plans, the scrappage scheme could encourage drivers to give up their diesel cars if they live in towns or cities with particularly acute pollution problems.
There had been reservations about the idea of a scrappage scheme over fears it would be giving handouts to wealthy diesel owners who want to buy a new car.
However, there is a growing sense in government that a substantial policy will have to be rolled out to persuade people to give up diesel cars, which emit nitrogen oxides that contribute to health problems such as asthma.
It is understood discussions are ongoing about the scrappage scheme and other elements of the plan to reduce use of diesel cars, even though the deadline for producing a new document is just over a week away, on 24 April.
The idea of a tailored scheme has been supported by Neil Parish, chair of the Commons environment committee, who will use a debate on Wednesday to raise the proposal.
He will say that “households should not just be able to trade in multiple diesels for a cash subsidy”, and argue that the government “should particularly consider targeting a scrappage scheme at poorer households or those earning less than 60% of the median UK household income”.
“If the government earmarked £500m for this scheme, it would take nearly 10% of the 5m dirtiest diesels off our roads. Limiting the scheme to these hotspots could potentially take as many as half of these dirtiest diesels out of these pollution hotspots.”