Boris Johnson suggests motorists should receive up to £2000 to encourage older diesel-engined vehicles off the UK’s roads
Matt Burt
11 September 2014

Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, has backed a proposal to offer cash to encourage motorists to trade in old diesel-engined cars for more modern, cleaner vehicles.

Under the proposed scheme, which would effectively be a diesel-specific revival of the vehicle scrappage initiative that ran between 2009 and 2010, motorists would be offered a grant of between £1000 and £2000 to replace cars that don’t meet modern emissions standards.

Giving evidence to the Environmental Audit Committee in London yesterday, Johnson said this was “a brilliant opportunity to support the British car industry and promote the early uptake of ultra low emission vehicles”.

He also expressed sympathy for motorists who had heeded previous government advice to buy more frugal and expensive diesel cars, only for policy makers to change their minds in light of more recent research which suggests particulates in diesel emissions contribute to health issues.

“What we’re saying is it should be between one and two thousand pounds for people who have been seduced into buying a diesel vehicle,” he said.

“I feel very sorry for them. This has been a massive failure of public policy. Millions of people were told that they were doing the environmentally friendly thing by buying a diesel vehicle and they now feel very hacked off that suddenly they’re being told that their vehicles are polluting.

“They deserve support and you could use the diesel scrappage scheme to stimulate the market for cleaner vehicles as the 2009 scheme did."

Johnson estimated that the diesel scrappage scheme would cost the government about £300m, which was the same amount set aside for the original initiative.

The scheme is part of the Mayor’s proposals for an Ultra Low Emission Zone, which could be introduced in central London from 2020.

Charging diesel cars that pollute more to enter the capital is a key part of the ULEZ, and consultation on the zone will begin in late October. It is estimated that the ULEZ would take London two-thirds of the way to compliance with EU limit values for nitrogen dioxide (NO2).

The UK is being fined by the European Commission for non-compliance with the EU’s air quality directive, although it is not alone – of the 28 EU states only Malta meets current criteria.

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Our Verdict

Nissan Leaf

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11 September 2014
Fine BoJo...as long as all the Black Cabs get retired too..! When they're gone I'll consider trading in my V6 HDi, until then sling your hook.

11 September 2014
All those clogged DPF diesels not going anywhere in London...

Where has all Japanese design went to?

11 September 2014
I like the idea, apart from the public paying for this, it could be paid for with an extra cost to be added to the price of new diesel vehicles most of which are chosen as company cars, and extra road tax (to bring them up to the levels of much less harmful petrols).

12 September 2014
artill wrote:

I like the idea, apart from the public paying for this, it could be paid for with an extra cost to be added to the price of new diesel vehicles most of which are chosen as company cars, and extra road tax (to bring them up to the levels of much less harmful petrols).

I disagree. I'm a private buyer and I have a 100 mile round-trip daily commute mainly on motorways. For me, diesel is the only viable option. I get around 750 miles from a tank of fuel, which equates to about 1.5 weeks. I'd be far more out of pocket even with the latest crop of more efficient petrol engines. They just aren't a viable alternative just yet. And petrols aren't "much less harmful" when more of a diesel vehicle's life is spent on motorways. The issue Boris has is to do with Nox levels around town.


"Work hard and be nice to people"

11 September 2014
He loves spending the tax payers money does old Boris....

11 September 2014
what happened to the Nissan BlackCab? Has it been sent back to Nissan for a complete re-design?

11 September 2014
Its a ridiculous idea and far from "green" - diesels emit far less CO2 so are better than petrols for the environment in that respect. Scrapping perfectly usable cars is NOT in any way good for the environment. What is needed is more stringent emissions controls for new diesels that make NOx traps and DPFs mandatory and a scheme to retro fit older diesels with them. The "new scientific evidence" confirms that smaller particulates can lodge in the lungs, DPFs will prevent this, problem sorted. The proposal, like the first scrapppage schmeme is TOTAL MADNESS, not green in any way and only has advantages for business (ie new car manufacturers). Typical Tory, all they care about is money and its a particularly cynical approach to try and dress a pro - business policy up as an environmental one. And if you have shelled out thouands and thousands for a new diesel a couple of grand isnt much compensation.

michael knight wrote:

what happened to the Nissan BlackCab? Has it been sent back to Nissan for a complete re-design?

No, its not available as a diesel

11 September 2014
What's the betting that, if this came to pass, in a few years "new scientific evidence" would reveal that the smaller PM2.5s emitted by petrol engines turn out to be worse than PM10s emitted by older diesels, resulting in a petrol car scrappage? Yes, we know that cars emit particulates. So do buses, train and planes (and power-stations where those electric cars get their juice from). Life is not perfect, and I don't suspect it ever will be.

12 September 2014
Jeremy wrote:

What's the betting that, if this came to pass, in a few years "new scientific evidence" would reveal that the smaller PM2.5s emitted by petrol engines turn out to be worse than PM10s emitted by older diesels, resulting in a petrol car scrappage? Yes, we know that cars emit particulates. So do buses, train and planes (and power-stations where those electric cars get their juice from). Life is not perfect, and I don't suspect it ever will be.

Correct! Here's a link to a report which appears to have been ignored so far in the whole debate:

www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/tuv-nord-testing-firm-direct-injected-gasoline-engines-emit-more-particulates-than-diesels/

I fully expect that this report will be noticed and acted upon once everyone has switched to petrol again.

11 September 2014
On the basis that the politicians persuade the industry to go halves (£1000 per car) as they did with the old scrappage scheme, they'd actually make a profit - because the VAT on each car would exceed £1000.
But I wouldn't like to argue the environmental benefit for scrapping roadworthy and efficient (though soot producing) diesels in favour of less efficient but less polluting petrol models. And given that the current 5 grand inducement for buying electric cars isn't exactly prompting a rush to the showrooms, I doubt that £2k would be sufficient.

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