UK diesel scrappage scheme plan announced
05 May 2017
05 May 2017 The UK Government has published its draft air quality action plan, which includes proposals to introduce a targeted diesel scrappage scheme for pre-Euro 6 diesel cars and pre-Euro 4 petrol cars. With 40 areas across the UK exceeding safe NOx limits, it also outlines plans for clean air zones in major cities across the UK. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)’s modelling estimates the scheme could take 15,000 diesel and petrol cars (9,000 diesel, 6,000 petrol) off the road. It would also dramatically increase the number of electric vehicles in the UK. A grant level of £8,000 (€9,432) was assumed for the calculation of these figures. It also suggests the scheme could be brought in within two years. The draft proposals will now be out for consultation for the next six weeks, with the final plan set to be published by the end of July. The plan has been welcomed by the UK’s industry body the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. Chief executive Mike Hawes said: ′SMMT welcomes the publication of the government’s proposals for improving air quality across the UK, which clearly states that the new Euro 6 diesels which have been on sale for the past two years will not face any penalty charges anywhere in the UK. ′We’re encouraged that plans to improve traffic flow and congestion, as well as increase uptake of electric and hybrid vehicles, will be prioritised in towns and cities. We look forward to working with government to encourage the uptake of the latest, low emission vehicles, regardless of fuel type.’ A full suite of local measures are also outlined in the proposition, including removing road speed bumps (that cause inefficient stop-start driving styles) and major steps to further boost infrastructure for walking, cycling and electric vehicles. The scheme also considers retrofitting trucks, buses and black cabs – all major sources of city NOx pollution – to deliver cleaner air at a much faster rate than the government originally planned to, before being forced into doing so after losing legal challenges by environmental lawyers ClientEarth. The government initially attempted to delay the plans until after the general election on 8 June, but this was blocked by the courts, who said publication now was ′essential’ due to ′exceptional circumstances.’ Figures from the UK’s Royal College of Physicians estimates that air pollution across the UK contributes to 40,000 premature deaths a year. The plans have been blasted by the Mayor of London, who will introduce tougher targets himself in the capital, opposition parties and environmental campaigners. All say the proposals do not go far enough. ClientEarth, who brought the legal challenges that have led to the mooting of this scrappage scheme, said the measures would still leave the UK with ′illegal’ levels of air pollution for years to come. This suggests the lawyers are planning to launch a fresh legal challenge to bolster the proposals further. However, the challenges are based on EU law, which the UK could choose to relax, pending negotiations, after it leaves the EU.