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London Mayor calls for diesel scrappage scheme

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has called on the government to implement his new proposals for a national diesel scrappage fund.

The Mayor has made improving London’s air quality a top priority and has consulted on hard-hitting plans including a ‘toxic’ charge for the most polluting vehicles, bringing forward the introduction of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone and then expanding it up to the North and South Circular Road.

In his manifesto, the Mayor committed to put forward a proposal to government for a national vehicle scrappage scheme and recently delivered a report jointly developed by Transport for London and Cambridge Economic Policy Associates. The report provides a new framework for a national scrappage fund and modelling which other UK cities could use to produce their own scheme.

The package of proposed measures could be delivered by government over a two-year period, the Mayor believes, and would help fulfil the UK’s legal obligation to comply with European pollution limits, incentivise ‘dirty’ diesel drivers to switch to cleaner vehicles, and protect the health of the public. The key recommendations of the report include:

• 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.
• A credit scheme valued at £2,000 to help low-income households (those with incomes lower than £231.60 per week after housing costs) in cities scrap up to 130,000 polluting cars, with incentives for car clubs.
• Payments of £1,000 to help scrap up to 10,000 older polluting London taxis (in addition to extra TfL help for drivers to upgrade to greener taxis).

Traditionally, the taxi trade has had a limited choice of diesel vehicles, but this proposed fund would be used alongside wider existing support to help drivers switch to new zero-emission models.

Urgent implementation of these proposals would help reduce the cost of introducing and expanding the Ultra Low Emission Zone and help to achieve a 40% reduction in London road transport nitrous oxide emissions, claims the Mayor. Under his proposal, the total government compensation for drivers of the most polluting diesel vehicles in London would be around £515 million, before taking into account industry participation which could significantly reduce the amount to be funded by government.

“The toxic state of our air leaves us with no choice but to rid our city of the most polluting diesel vehicles,” Sadiq Khan said. “It is shocking that nearly half of new car sales in the UK are still diesels and that the Vehicle Excise Duty system still incentivises motorists to buy them. I’m urging the government to immediately review this policy. A national diesel scrappage fund is the cost-effective way to deliver significant emission reductions while reducing the economic impact on those most affected, such as small businesses, charities and low-income households.”