The UK government has recently announced the introduction of a diesel scrappage scheme in several UK cities, which are considered highly polluted ‘hotspots’. But what will it mean for UK drivers, and what are the repercussions of air pollution in the UK? We took a closer look…
The announcement, which is currently in the proposal stage, has been backed by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, along with other high profile MPs, as a way of reducing the overall air pollution caused by high polluting vehicles on our roads.
Expected to be rolled out in the cities of London, Birmingham, Derby, Leeds, Nottingham and Southampton, the scheme will see owners of qualifying diesel vehicles offered £2000 off the price of a new vehicle, as an incentive to scrap older, more hazardous polluting vehicles.
As it stands, there are currently over 11.2 million diesel cars on UK roads, with 20% of those being older than 12 years old, and therefore considered to be highly pollutant. In 2013, the European Environment Agency conducted research which detailed the damaging effects of nitrogen oxide – a high quantity of which is emitted by diesel cars – to public health, and revealed that around 12,000 premature deaths are the result of nitrogen oxide pollution. The research revealed a higher level of resulting respiratory diseases, such as asthma, being widespread.
The uptake of diesel vehicles has been on the increase over the past ten years due to them emitting less CO2, and therefore falling into a lower tax bracket. However, little research was conducted into the effects of nitrogen oxide prior to the boom in diesel sales in the UK.
Neil Parish, chair of the commons environment committee, has been vocal on the need for a diesel scrappage scheme on UK roads, and has suggested in parliament that the scrappage scheme should be aimed at poorer households; or those earning less than 60% of median UK household income. The reason for this is so that higher earning households with multiple diesel vehicles won’t be able to trade them all in for a cash subsidy, simply because they want to invest in a new car.
Concern has been growing over diesel vehicle emissions since the 2015 Volkswagen emissions scandal, which saw more toxic fumes being emitted in real time driving conditions, as opposed to in laboratory tests. Following this scandal, the Department for Transport conducted an investigation which saw that 37 of the top selling diesel vehicles on UK roads were exceeding the legal limits required for emissions.
The 2017 diesel scrappage scheme echoes a previous scheme set forward by the UK government in 2009, which saw owners of old vehicles being offered £1000 towards a cleaner, more efficient car or van in return for them scrapping their old vehicles.
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