Businesses back Khan's diesel scrappage fund

Businesses back Khan's diesel scrappage fund

A group of London businesses have written to the chancellor of the exchequer, Philip Hammond, urging him to introduce the Mayor of London’s proposals for a national diesel scrappage fund.

The mayor called on ministers last month to implement his new plans for a national ‘dirty’ diesel scrappage fund that would financially compensate motorists and enable the government to get a grip on killer toxic air.

Diesel cars and vans – many of which were purchased in good faith by drivers who wrongly thought diesel was a ‘cleaner’ option – contribute massively to London’s current toxic air pollution. 

Currently more than 9,000 Londoners die prematurely each year as a result of long-term exposure to air pollution. Air pollution in the UK is leading to 40,000 premature deaths annually, creating an economic burden of £20bn every year.

Now, organisations including the Federation of Small Business, London First, Greenpeace and the Licensed Taxi Drivers' Association have expressed their support for the mayor’s proposals for a national diesel scrappage fund.

In their letter to the chancellor they said: “We believe the mayor has adopted a cost-effective approach that minimises risks and simplifies administration for government.

“The mayor’s proposal seeks to rebalance the financial cost of improving our air away from the individual – unlocking significant emission reductions while reducing the cost for those least able to afford to upgrade their vehicle or change how they drive.

"This will enable the government to have greater confidence that it will fulfil its legal obligation to comply with European legal pollution limits as soon as practically possible.”

Last month, Sadiq Khan delivered a report jointly developed by Transport for London and Cambridge Economic Policy Associates that provides a new framework for a national scrappage fund and modelling which other UK cities could use to produce their own scheme and subsequent share of funding required.

Key recommendations included:

  • Payments of £3,500 to scrap up to 70,000 polluting vans and minibuses in London  and a national fund to support charities and small businesses that often own older diesel and mini buses (approximately £245m in London)
  • A credit scheme valued at £2,000 to help low-income households in cities (those with incomes lower than £231.60 per week after housing costs) scrap up to 130,000 polluting cars, with incentives for car clubs and public transport (costing approximately £260m in London)
  • Payments of £1,000 to help scrap up to 10,000 older polluting London taxis (this is in addition to extra TfL help for drivers to upgrade to greener taxis): traditionally the taxi trade has had a limited choice of heavy, polluting diesel vehicles but this proposed fund would be used alongside wider existing support to help drivers switch to new zero-emission models (approximately £10m in London).

Khan said: “Our filthy air is a national health emergency and it is vital that the government treat this crisis as seriously as I am doing and introduce measures that will cut air pollution and save lives.

“I am pleased that a broad alliance of business organisations and environmental charities are backing my plans for a national diesel scrappage.

"Now is the time for the government to take urgent and decisive action to help get the most polluting vehicles off our roads in a fair and reasonable manner.”

Sue Terpilowski OBE, London policy chair at the Federation of Small Businesses, said: "FSB London is pleased to be supporting the Mayor’s proposals for a diesel scrappage fund and that the concerns of our members have been heard.

"FSB supports the principle of improving air quality and removing from the roads those vehicles that contribute disproportionately to air pollution.”

Sue's views were echoed by Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, who added: “London’s black cab trade is committed to working with City Hall to address the capital’s declining air quality.

"That’s why from 2018 all new taxis in London must be zero emissions capable (ZEC).

"We fully support the mayor’s proposals for a national vehicle scrappage fund, which will make it fairer and easier for drivers to meet the cost associated with decommissioning the oldest, most polluting vehicles, helping us to become the greenest cab fleet of any city in the world.”