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Potential Diesel Scrappage Scheme

Remember how we were all encouraged to buy diesel cars by the government not so long ago to help it hit its carbon dioxide emissions targets? Well, what they failed to take into account at the time was the fact there's a lot of much nastier stuff than carbon dioxide that comes out of the exhausts of diesel vehicles as well. Now it's been brought to the government's attention diesel exhaust emissions are responsible for thousands or avoidable deaths in the UK each year, a complete about-turn has been done and diesels that were until recently seen as environmentally friendly are now the enemy. So, guess who's going to pay for this 180 degree change of focus and policy? That's right; motorists. There is potentially some light at the end of the tunnel though for those drivers of diesels worried about the cost of having to change to another type of vehicle, or the cost of not doing; a potential diesel scrappage scheme.

How would a scrappage scheme work?

It was first suggested a scheme similar to the last scrappage scheme that was used to get older, more polluting cars off the road could be introduced, but only for drivers in areas where air pollution was at its worst. It would basically come down to a cash incentive for owners to trade in their diesel for something new, and therefore less polluting. There are big problems with how to administer such a scheme though to avoid helping those who don't necessarily need it and to avoid abuse.

When will it happen?

The government has been mulling over potential schemes as part of its proposals to tackle dangerous levels of nitrogen dioxide, and the findings were supposed to be published on April 24th. This was then going to be postponed until after the recently announced general election, with a draft plan to be unveiled on June 30th with a full policy following in September. This postponement was challenged in the High Court and now the government will have to publish the draft, regardless of the election, by May 4th.

How much will it be worth?

If you think you're going to be offered enough money to trade in your 15 plate diesel Ford Mondeo or similar for a brand new petrol or hybrid without having to dig deep yourself then think again. At most, the scrappage scheme will be worth £1500 to £2000 per vehicle, and even then it will only be applicable to considerably older models.

What about sticking with what we have?

If, or when, a diesel scrappage scheme is introduced, you won't be forced to accept it. You could just hang on to your existing vehicle and trade it in when you're ready and ignore the scheme. And if you can't afford to buy a brand new model, even with the cash incentive, you'll probably have to. However, be warned; your diesel is going to keep costing you more and more every year as punitive "encouragements" are gradually brought in by government and councils to make owning and driving a diesel increasingly, and unacceptably expensive.

You may well have noticed how car tax has already become less generous towards cars emitting low levels of carbon dioxide this year, and we can expect worse to come, especially for diesels. What hasn't hit yet in most places are local charges to drive or even park diesels in certain areas. This is already coming in for London's congestion zone, and you can be sure other towns and cities will follow suit. Although it will done under the banner of reducing air pollution, the potential financial rewards for councils where even the air is the sweetest will mean charges for parking and driving diesels are likely to become commonplace.

The draft details of a potential diesel scrappage scheme are likely to be published very soon. It will probably make sense to take advantage if you can as it could cost you more not to in the long run.

09 May 2017

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