West Midlands Mayor Andy Street has backed calls for a scrappage scheme for older, more polluting diesel cars, in a statement last week.
The Mayor was elected to lead the West Midlands Combined Authority last month (May) – which is made up of the 12 local authorities, including Birmingham city council, and four local enterprise partnerships.
Speaking ahead of the National Clean Air Day last week (15 June) the Mayor described air pollution as a ‘genuine concern’ for people in the region.
He said: “Air pollution in towns and cities here is a really serious issue and a genuine concern for people.
“We need to encourage different behaviour. In the short term we need to encourage people not to use their cars – and that means giving people a choice, an alternative to driving their own vehicles and contributing to this issue.
“In London, for example, there are proposals for a scrappage scheme for diesel cars and we would need that to be extended to the West Midlands.â€?
Supporters of a diesel scrappage scheme claim that the move would help to incentivise drivers replace older polluting diesel vehicles, which are thought to be a major contributor to emissions of pollutants including nitrogen dioxide.
However, opponents of the scheme, including the RAC Foundation, claim that the policy would be costly and have little effect on air pollution (see airqualitynews.com story).
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has committed to put forward a proposal to government to incentivise drivers to move away from diesel vehicles, with support of up to £3,500 for the most polluting vans and minibuses.
However, the government has not committed to taking forward the measure, but did ask respondents to its National Clean Air Plan Consultation, which also ended last week, for their views on the potential for a scrappage scheme.
Reaffirming his commitment to tackling air pollution, the West Midlands Mayor added that residents needed to be encouraged to use alternatives to cars for journeys where this is possible
He said: “In the long term, our region has the potential to help solve the problem of traffic emissions in a dramatic way.
“What we’ve got to do is move away from the traditional combustion engine. Here in the West Midlands, the UK’s centre for automotive manufacturing, we’re leading the UK’s thinking in moving from the traditional combustion engine to battery-powered vehicles.
“We are currently submitting a bid to government to create a National Battery Prototype Centre in Coventry which, if successful, would drive the delivery of the national electrification agenda and potentially lead to production of electric vehicles here in the West Midlands.â€?