Diesel scrappage scheme backed by most drivers, poll shows

Seven out of 10 (68%) drivers would support a diesel scrappage scheme, a study has found.

Just 10% would oppose such an initiative, according to a poll of more than 20,000 motorists commissioned by the AA.

There has been speculation that a scrappage scheme aimed at taking older, more polluting diesel cars off the roads and replacing them with cleaner vehicles could be introduced when the Government publishes its updated clean air plans by April 24.

The courts ruled existing plans to meet EU-mandated air quality limits, which are being broken across many areas of the country, are not sufficient.

AA president Edmund King claimed a diesel scrappage scheme "could be part of the solution".

He said: "More than 80% of our members say that improving air quality is important to them. However, it would be grossly unfair to penalise those who bought diesels back in the early 2000s in good faith and with government encouragement.

"Whilst older diesel vehicles contribute towards air pollution, they are certainly not the only source. Other measures should be put in place to tackle non-vehicle contributors."

But Steve Gooding, director of motoring research charity the RAC Foundation, warned that "inconvenient facts" must be faced before "pumping millions if not billions of pounds of taxpayers' money into a scrappage scheme".

He said: "It is not a simple matter of taking the oldest cars out of circulation. The worst polluters could well be much more recent models which do high mileages in congested towns and cities.

"Surely our money would be better spent on extending the charging infrastructure for electric cars and maintaining government grants for the take-up of the cleanest vehicles?"

Polluting cars will be forced to pay up to £24 a day to drive in central London from 2019, under plans unveiled by Mayor Sadiq Khan this week.

All but the newest diesel cars will face a £12.50 charge to drive in the planned ultra low emissions zone, which would cover the same central area as the current congestion charge zone.

Concerns over the impact of diesel cars on nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels were raised by the Volkswagen emissions scandal in September 2015.

A subsequent Department for Transport investigation found that 37 top-selling diesel cars exceed the legal limit required for laboratory pollution tests when driven for 90 minutes on normal roads.

Drivers were encouraged to switch away from petrol under Tony Blair's government and Prime Minister Theresa May has said that would be taken "into account" in future plans.

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