AA calls for £1 billion diesel scrappage scheme

Motoring group wants English cities and the Government to each put £500 million into getting polluting cars off the road

Diesel smog, haze, pollution

The AA is calling for a £1 billion diesel scrappage scheme funded by English cities and central Government.

Cities in England - mayors from 14 of which have already called for a £1.5 billion ‘clean air fund’ - are planning to raise a total of £52 million this year from bus lane fines, which adds up to £520 million over 10 years. If this were to be combined with another £500 million from the Government, it would fund a £1 billion diesel scrappage scheme.

 Diesel ban: the state of play and what next for diesel cars in the UK? 

The AA says the first priority of such a scheme should be to ensure low-income drivers - such as families, the elderly and the disabled - living in urban areas are not priced off the road by low-emission zones and congestion charging schemes.

Scrappage grants would allow these residents to upgrade their old dirty diesel cars to newer Euro 6 compliant models. This money could then be recouped through interest-free loans or supplements on resident parking permit charges, allowing the money to be recycled back into funding EVs.

Another point the AA makes is that the push towards electrification needs to be targeted at the worst polluters, such as buses, taxis and vans, as well as higher mileage car drivers in cities, such as community nurses and visiting doctors. When a business benefits from this, the money should again be tied into a loan.

With many cities holding off on extending their clean air charges to private cars, the AA says its proposals would allow them to gauge the impact of targeting the vehicles that create the most pollution while they wait. This move would prevent low-income car owners from being put in the firing line in the first place.

• VW emissions scandal: latest news

Edmund King, president of the AA, commented: “This is a radical clean air plan that ticks so many of the boxes - protecting vulnerable low-income car owners, giving the city mayors most of the cleaner vehicle money they want and giving a surge of power to the electrification of city vehicles.

“Half the money, coming from bus lane fines, is ready and waiting in council coffers. Rather than waiting two years for clean air restrictions to come into force, councils can make a start virtually tomorrow. It also meets the requirements for use of traffic fines income on transport projects.

“And, if the councils complain that they need the bus lane income to fill in potholes and other roads projects, the ones in England already plan to make a surplus of £921 million from their parking charges.”

Should the UK have a diesel scrappage scheme? Tell us why in the comments below...

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