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Diesel drivers paid to scrap cars to tackle air pollution

  • Government is consulting on proposals to bring in 'targeted' scrappage scheme 
  • While stretches of badly-polluted motorway could have new speed limit
  • Funding to roll out electric cars and tackle traffic also unveiled by ministers 
  • Plans laid out after the High Court ordered it to introduce tougher measures 

By Kate Ferguson, Political Correspondent For Mailonline

Published: 09:22 EDT, 5 May 2017 | Updated: 11:54 EDT, 5 May 2017

Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom, pictured leaving Downing Street in January, has unveiled the Government's plans to tackle air pollution
Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom, pictured leaving Downing Street in January, has unveiled the Government's plans to tackle air pollution

Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom, pictured leaving Downing Street in January, has unveiled the Government's plans to tackle air pollution

The speed limit on motorways could be cut to 60mph and drivers paid to scrap their diesel cars under long-awaited plans to tackle air pollution.

The Government is consulting on proposals to bring in 'targeted' scrappage scheme to get older and more polluting vehicles off the roads.

While stretches of badly-polluted motorways could have their speed limits cut from 70mph to 60mph in a bid to clean up Britain's air.

The Government was forced to draw up the new clean air plans after the High Court ruled that existing proposals would not meet EU pollution limits. 

They suggest a scrappage scheme could see 9,000 of the most polluting diesel vehicles and 6,000 old petrol vehicles scrapped and replaced by electric models.

And in a lengthy document, officials raised concerns that cars travelling at faster speeds produce more of the toxic nitrogen oxides - pollutants blamed for thousands of premature deaths in Britain every year.

Cutting the speed limit on badly polluted stretches of motorway could help tackle the pollutants, the air quality plan states.

It states: 'There may be potential to improve air quality by lowering speed limits. 

Five proposals being considered to clean up Britain's air 

  1. Replace 15,000 of the most polluting vehicles and replace them with electric cars.
  2. Extra funding given to increase the take-up of electric cars and install new charging points for them.
  3. To cut the speed limit of badly-polluted motorways from 70mph to 60mph.
  4. Address road humps, pinch points and bad traffic management which choke streets and create pollution. 
  5. Create 27 'clean air zones'. Drivers of the dirtiest vehicles could be charged for driving into them, and initiatives such as car sharing and cycling schemes could be launched.

'The speed limits option would seek to tackle lengths of motorway experiencing poor levels of air quality. 

'For this option, the effect of reducing the motorway speed limit from 70 to 60mph has been simulated by modelling a reduction in the average speed (by 10mph) of affected vehicles.'

It calls for more  work to be undertaken to look at the proposal.

Meanwhile, extra funding to increase the take-up of electric cars and tackle 'pinch points' that choke Britain's streets will be brought in under a series of what ministers dubbed 'common' sense measures.  

But the Tories ruled out 'hitting motorists in the pocket' by imposing charging zones and increased parking charges.

They said policies to clean up Britain's air should not 'unfairly penalise ordinary working families'.

Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom said: 'Improving air quality is a key priority as we support businesses in building a stronger and cleaner economy.

'Our plan today sets out how we will do just that - including presenting options for targeted diesel scrappage schemes.

'But in contrast to this common-sense way forward, Jeremy Corbyn's only solution would be to hit you in the pocket with higher taxes.'

Documents published by the Government suggest the most effective way of cutting nitrogen dioxide is thought to be implementing 'clean air zones' in 27 towns and cities where air pollution levels are illegally high.

Measures implemented in the zones could include charging motorists who drive the dirtiest vehicles. 

Alternatively the scheme could be targeted at vehicles from a specific sector, particular areas or individuals.

Drivers of diesel cars could be paid  to trade them in under a targeted scrappage scheme
Drivers of diesel cars could be paid  to trade them in under a targeted scrappage scheme

Drivers of diesel cars could be paid  to trade them in under a targeted scrappage scheme

London Mayor Sadiq Khan warned that the pollution is causing premature deaths and called for more urgent action to tackle it.

He said: 'The Government's proposals don't include a commitment for a new comprehensive Clean Air Act. 

'And there's no commitment to changes to vehicle excise duty to encourage people to buy cleaner cars.

'This is a weak plan that lacks any sense of urgency. 

'That means thousands of people will continue to die prematurely and unnecessarily, and many more children having to live with long-term health problems.'           

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