EAC suggest diesel scrappage scheme

The Environmental Audit Committee published a report today that suggests the Government should consider a diesel scrappage scheme and ensure that Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) changes tackle harmful NO2 pollution as well as climate-changing CO2 to encourage drivers to move away from polluting diesel vehicles. The report was published in response to the Government’s Draft plans to improve air quality in the UK. 

Environmental Audit Committee chair, Huw Irranca-Davies MP said, ‘Tens of thousands of premature deaths are being caused in the UK every year by illegal levels of air pollution on our roads. 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 NO2.’

‘The Chancellor has the chance to strike a better balance on this next week. 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. Introducing a national diesel scrappage scheme could also provide a short-cut to cleaning up the air in our cities.’

The MPs welcome the proposal to create a national framework of Clean Air Zones, something that the Environmental Audit Committee has called for on repeated occasions. However, the Committee warns that the power for individual Local Authorities to decide the access rules for particular vehicles could lead to confusing signals being sent to drivers across the country.

Huw Irranca-Davies added, ‘We are very pleased that the Government has finally accepted the Environmental Audit Committee’s calls for a national framework of Clean Air Zones. Defra is right to say that local Authorities will have a better understanding of “the issues on the ground”. However, it will be important to avoid sending out conflicting signals to drivers across the country. The Government needs to bear this in mind when devising the Clean Air Zones framework.’

The Committee also raises concerns about the Government transferring responsibility on air quality to Local Authorities when they are facing reductions in funding. Huw Irranca-Davies concluded,

‘We are concerned that central government is trying to shift responsibility for meeting air quality targets to local authorities at a time when they are facing severe funding cuts. The Government has a duty to ensure that Local Authorities have the financial means at their disposal to adequately implement air quality action plans.’