Further details of the government’s proposals to address air pollution have emerged following today’s Budget statement, through a consultation on support for individuals and businesses affected by air quality plans.
The consultation launched by Defra this afternoon (22 November) aims to identify where central government can provide support through ‘specific guidance on key measures’ and ‘frameworks that could allow local authorities to implement measures more efficiently’ .
Potential additional measures set out in the consultation include measures to increase the uptake of vehicle retrofit schemes and further support for low emission vehicles.
The consultation also asks for views on where government could help to reduce the cost of clean air charging zones on ‘certain individuals’ as well as a ‘targeted vehicle scrappage schemes’ where drivers are encouraged to scrap older polluting vehicles in exchange for a discount on a less polluting model.
In light of the introduction of scrappage schemes by a number of car manufacturers, Defra has asked for views on how a government-backed scheme could complement those already available.
In the consultation documents, the Department noted: “Considering the recent introduction of scrappage schemes by a number of manufacturers, we are interested in gathering evidence of whether there is a role for further targeted schemes – and if so, how any taxpayer-funded scheme could be designed so that it complements existing schemes, represents value for money, is deliverable without introducing significant fraud risk, and is suitably targeted.â€?
A scrappage scheme for older more polluting vehicles is favoured by environmental groups and local authorities who are keen to ensure that drivers are encouraged to switch to more modern and lower emission vehicles.
Senior political figures including the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan and the West Midlands Mayor, Andy Street, have backed vehicle scrappage, as well as 67 cross-party MPs who signed a joint letter to the Environment Secretary Michael Gove in the summer.
Elsewhere in the consultation the government asks for views on measures to support individuals to switch to other forms of transport – including a ‘wide range of less polluting options’.
Areas identified include measures to support car club membership, support for travel by train, taxi, cycling or walking, increased use of park and ride or car-sharing schemes and measures to support bus travel.
Funding for any measures brought forward by Defra would be paid for via a £220 million Clean Air Fund, which was among the proposals announced by the Chancellor Philip Hammond this afternoon (see airqualitynews.com story).
Elsewhere in the Budget, the Chancellor announced proposals to increase vehicle excise duty for new diesel cars, alongside additional funding for electric vehicle infrastructure.