Road transport still counted for 34% of the UK’s NOx emissions in 2015, and the rate of reduction from the sector has slowed down because of the increased contribution from diesel vehicles. Turning to the Government’s plans, I was therefore disappointed that a scrappage scheme was not announced at the Budget. Of course, we are a little hopeful that something may be announced very soon. The Transport Secretary stated on “The Andrew Marr Show” in February that the Government were considering a scrappage scheme, but there have been no further announcements. I know that there are concerns about the costs of any scheme, and that is why it should be targeted and proportionate. It can be a key weapon in the Government’s armoury in tackling air pollution problems.
What is more, a scrappage scheme is very popular with the public. A recent survey of over 20,000 AA members showed that seven in 10 backed the policy, rising to three quarters among young people. A separate survey published by the think-tank Bright Blue just two weeks ago showed that 67% of Conservatives backed a scrappage scheme. Ministers, this is a policy with significant public support, especially as we move, dare I say it, towards a general election—that was not in my speech.
What would a scrappage scheme look like? First, it would mean replacement by ultra-low emission vehicles. Any potential scrappage scheme should have a stringent condition on the replacement vehicle. It should mandate users to swap their vehicles for an ultra-low emission vehicle or other forms of transport.