Ministers should consider scrapping the oldest and dirtiest diesels in the UK to improve air quality.That’s according to the RAC Foundation, which has called for the most polluting models – those around 10 years or older – to be taken off the road.
In a new report, the Foundation claims that there are 29,000 premature deaths every year due to air quality. And now it’s calling on the Government to do something to lower harmful pollutants, which can cause serious illnesses like asthma, heart conditions and cancer.
The popularity of diesel cars has soared in the last 20 years. Lower CO2 emissions and better fuel economy, plus Vehicle Excise Duty and company car incentives, have seen numbers rise from 1.6m in 1994 to 10.1 million in 2013.
But older diesels typically emit more nitrogen oxide and particulate matter than petrol cars, and these are linked to poor air quality and health issues. “Many people believed that by buying diesels they’d get better fuel consumption and help fight global warming through low CO2 emissions,” Prof. Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, explained.
“But such was the focus on the planet that policy makers missed the impact older diesel models in particular have on health in urban areas. The car industry has risen to the challenge of cleaning up diesel engines but we need to deal with the legacy of the dirtiest diesels.”
A spokesman from the Department for Transport told us that there are no current plans to introduce such a scheme and that other projects were already helping to improve air quality. He said: “There have been major improvements in air quality over the past two decades, and we’re investing £2billion on a range of actions to improve it further. These include promoting ultra-low emission vehicles, greener public transport, walking and cycling.”