Here at Big Motoring World we were encouraged by the government’s recent announcement that outline their proposals to cut air pollution in the UK.
A growing problem
The issue is a huge one – the Royal College of Physicians has said that air pollution can be linked to around 40,000 premature deaths each year. And while air quality has clearly improved since the middle of the twentieth century, the UK has struggled in recent times to stay on the right side of EU limits. Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in particular has been a problem – 37 of the 43 regions of the UK are in breach of NO2 limits – and with experts linking it to a number of respiratory diseases, including asthma, it’s clear that positive action needs to be taken.
Diesel emissions are a big producer of NO2, and the Government has now suggested a ‘targeted’ diesel car scrappage scheme to help cut emissions. The proposal suggests that under the scheme 15,000 ‘Euro 1-5’ diesel cars and ‘Euro 1-3’ petrol cars are replaced with electric cars. They will provide a grant of £8,000 to help owners take advantage of the scheme, which could be introduced in the next couple of years.
More work to be done
There’s been a mixed response to the Government’s proposals from the industry.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders have backed the ideas, saying they welcome the assurance that new Euro 6 diesels which have been on sale for the past two years won’t face any penalty charges in the UK.
“We’re encouraged that plans to improve traffic flow and congestion, as well as increase uptake of electric and hybrid vehicles, will be prioritised in towns and cities,” said Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive. “We look forward to working with government to encourage the uptake of the latest, low emission vehicles, regardless of fuel type.”
No firm promises
However environmental lawyers ClientEarth have suggested that the scrappage plan doesn’t guarantee any improvements.
“The Government appears to have done some technical analysis of how this might work, and has given vague costings,” said ClientEarth’s Anna Heslop. “But it gives scant reference to a scrappage scheme in the actual plan and there is no commitment to it.”
All in all, we feel these proposals mark a step in the right direction – but whether they go far enough remains to be seen.