EAC wants scrappage scheme to replace high-polluting diesel models and higher tax charges
The UK Government should launch a diesel scrappage scheme and change road tax rules to encourage motorists to purchase newer, more environmentally friendly, vehicles, MPs say.
Following the Volkswagen emission scandal, The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) – which is chaired by Huw Irranca-Davies – believes such initiatives could improve air quality.
A previous scrappage scheme launched in 2009 to help the motor trade following the financial crisis. Motorists would get £2,000 and traded in almost 400,000 old cars over the year-long scheme.
Critics, however, argued that the environmental price of production outweighed any benefits.
However, a survey by The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) found that half (54%) of scrappage buyers had never bought a new car before and 56% said they would not have bought any vehicle at this time if the scrappage scheme had not been introduced.
Improve air quality
Mr Irranca-Davies said: “Introducing a national diesel scrappage scheme could provide a short-cut to cleaning up the air in our cities.”
RAC Chief Engineer David Bizley added: “Encouraging motorists to swap to cleaner vehicles through a scrappage scheme may certainly help in reducing poor local air quality, but there must also be bolder plans to replace heavily polluting bus and taxi fleets.”
He championed schemes currently in use. Mr Bizley argued: “London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone is a good example of a plan which aims to reduce emissions from the most polluting vehicles, including buses and taxis.”
New 'road tax' rules proposed
Since March 1st 2001, the cost of vehicle excise duty (road tax) has been based on carbon emissions only (CO2). The higher the emissions the higher the rates.
This system tends to favour diesels over petrols which is a consideration for motorists on a tight budget. But the Environmental Audit Committee argued that nitrogen oxide output should also have an impact as it too is a harmful substance.
Alongside current CO2 emissions groupings, the EAC called for a tiered nitrogen oxide approach to VED, meaning cars with high NOx emissions will cost more to tax.
Chairman Huw Irranca-Davies said: ”Tens of thousands of premature deaths are being caused in the UK every year” by traffic related air pollution.
He added: “Despite mounting evidence of the damage diesel fumes do to human health, changes to vehicle excise duty announced in this year’s budget maintained the focus only on CO2 emissions. This was a missed opportunity to also incentivise vehicles which emit less nitrogen oxides.”
Mr Irranca-Davies concluded: “The Treasury must use vehicle excise duty to create long-term incentives for drivers to buy cleaner hybrid and electric cars that minimise both CO2 and harmful pollutants.”
RAC Chief Engineer David Bizley added: “Any changes to VED (vehicle excise duty) must take into account that diesel vehicles have helped reduce CO2 emissions significantly. It is important to realise that many motorists were effectively encouraged to switch to diesel due to the incentive of lower tax rates as the system is based on CO2 emissions levels.”
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