EDMUND KING, president of the AA, has repeated calls for a targeted diesel scrappage scheme.
As diesel owners seem increasingly likely to face punitive measures for driving vehicles bought on the strength of green credentials, King has cautioned against harsh treatments, however.
Speaking to Car Dealer Magazine, King said: ‘Theresa May has said that diesel car owners should be treated fairly. If you look back in history, governments encouraged the dash for diesel with tax incentives in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
‘Many families and owners bought diesels in good faith. If we are to see restrictions on the use of diesels or charges for the use of diesels in urban areas then we feel it’s only fair that drivers are, in effect, given some compensation for following the guidance of previous governments.
‘Currently there are low-emission zones in London, Brighton, Norwich, Nottingham and Oxford, but other than London, those zones only affect buses currently.
‘There are also plans for low-emission schemes in Birmingham, Derby, Leeds and Southampton. One borough in London is tripling the residents’ parking charge for all diesel cars, but a Euro 6 diesel car is cleaner than a 10-15 year old petrol car, so there’s no logic there.
‘Part of the problem is that it’s not just diesel cars. What the research indicates is that in urban areas, about 10 per cent of the vehicles cause 50 per cent of the pollution and when remote sensing techniques have been used to measure this, it has tended to be primarily the older trucks, buses, taxis – and they do higher mileages in urban areas than private cars do. There’s a lot of demonising diesels out there without looking at the facts.’
King sees a repeat of the scrappage scheme as a potential path to help diesel owners out. The scheme, in 2009, saw owners of older vehicles offered a £2,000 incentive, half-backed by a government grant and half by a manufacturer discount, to buy a newer, cleaner vehicle. The majority of the UK’s volume manufacturers signed up to the scheme, which ran from April 2009 to March 2010.
He continued: ‘In 2009, we had a successful scrappage scheme. The reasons at the time were to boost the economy and the car industry rather than the environment. We could envisage a similar scheme whereby government and manufacturers could encourage people to upgrade to electric vehicles, hybrid vehicles or lower emission vehicles. One could draw up a table of vehicles that would be eligible for the scheme.
‘Whereas in 2009 it was a nationwide scrappage scheme, if you wanted to restrict the scheme to make it more targeted, you could target it to owners in bigger urban areas where there are greater air quality problems.
‘If you own a 10-year old car and live in the middle of Devon, it’s not really affecting air quality, so you could target the scheme to postcodes. You could encourage the uptake of more electric and hybrid vehicles – where hopefully there’d be better infrastructure with charging points and so on.
‘This could be a way of bringing a bit more fairness into the debate. It could encourage the uptake of greener, cleaner and safer cars – newer cars, in terms of Euro NCAP ratings, tend to be safer as well. The government wouldn’t necessarily lose out here either – the government would be getting 20 per cent VAT on the sale of new cars and the new car tax.’
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