James Baggott: Let’s give it up for BoJo and his scrappage scheme for diesel cars

James Baggott: Let’s give it up for BoJo and his scrappage scheme for diesel cars

James BaggottTHE floppy-haired, bike-riding Mayor of London Boris ‘I’ll Say Anything To Get My Name In The Papers’ Johnson has come out with some cracking quotes in his 50 years on this planet.

In fact, researching a few for this column caused me to spit a freshly-made coffee all over my iMac as I laughed out loud. That will annoy the cleaners, but then I’ve made that an Olympic sport at Car Dealer HQ.

Anyway, I digress. Boris, as you’ll well know, doesn’t seem to have much control over his mouth. If it’s not gurning uncontrollably it’s blurting out quotes like this, one of my all-time personal favourites: ‘Voting Tory will cause your wife to have bigger breasts and increase your chances of owning a BMW M3.’ Who said politicians lied to get votes?

Oh, and there’s always this one: ‘My speaking style was criticised by no less an authority than Arnold Schwarzenegger. It was a low moment, my friends, to have my rhetorical skills denounced by a monosyllabic Austrian cyborg.’ Bitchy Boris, I like it.

Or how about the former Etonian’s take on drugs: ‘I think I was given cocaine once but I sneezed so it didn’t go up my nose. In fact, it may have been icing sugar.’ I could go on, and on, and on.

In fact, if you want a laugh, head to Google and search for his top 50 quotes. I could have filled this page with just those, but with a new editor in the chair that might not have gone down well.

So I’ll get to my point. Among the large-breasts-and-cocaine chatter that has escaped from Boris’s face, there has recently been one golden nugget: His plan to introduce a new scrappage scheme for diesel cars.

For bumbling BoJo this was a gem. Angered by air pollution figures that revealed Oxford Street has the highest levels of nitrogen dioxide in the country, the mayor’s plan was to offer diesel car drivers who’d been ‘conned’ into buying one (his words not mine) when it really didn’t suit their needs into swapping for something less polluting.

Pretty generous

Boris believes that diesels over 12 months old should be eligible for a scrappage grant of £1,000-2,000. He fails to mention killing off billowing buses or HGVs, but I’ll ignore that because the car idea I can buy into.

How many times have you been driving down the road behind a car emitting more smoke than an Amsterdam café and wanted to ram them off the road? Or is that just me and founding members of the Green Party? I was following a smoker on the M3 the other week and every time the driver put his foot down it was like a NASA space launch had been initiated.

In fact, it was a surprise I didn’t choke on the thick, poisonous fog that was streaming out of the back.

I’m sure the driver of the battered old Peugeot 406 would have loved to swap his bonfire car for a lovely new efficient model, though, especially if he was in line for a £2,000 discount in the process.

Let’s not forget the last scrappage scheme actually MADE the government money. Yes, it seemed pretty generous offering £2,000 for old bangers (sadly, as we’ve reported recently, not all of them were, but again for the purposes of this column I’ll ignore that), but when you factored in the VAT receipts that HMRC collected from the sale of those new cars, it ended UP on the whole deal. Nice bit of business if you ask me.

I’m not in total agreement with Floppy Head. There need to be some parameters to determine exactly what gets scrapped. For a start, anything that has failed an emissions MOT test, that gets the cash. Anything over 10 years old and diesel-powered, well, that gets the cash too. And anything with a Vauxhall badge on it absolutely gets the cash. As long as the money is spent on something that hasn’t got a Vauxhall badge on the front. OK, maybe not that last one…

So, the detail. What would these scrappers have to buy? Well, I spoke to the SMMT, which told me that current NO2 emissions from diesels – compared with 2000 – are down 64 per cent. Particulates are down 90 per cent and carbon monoxide levels have been cut by 22 per cent. What’s more, the particulate filters fitted to all new diesels that comply with Euro 5 now capture 99 per cent of particulates. ‘Current diesels are the cleanest they ever have been,’ said a spokesman. So in answer to the question, they can buy anything they like.

What’s not to love? Old polluting diesel cars get taken off the road. Car dealers sell a nice new car that’s better for the environment, keeping people in jobs, and fewer poisonous gases are emitted into the atmosphere. Oh, and the government makes its money back and more, thanks to the VAT receipts these new car sales generate. So it’s a self-funding, good-for-the-environment policy that boosts the economy – just the sort of thing an embattled government needs to win over millions of defecting voters. Might keep this one to myself then…

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