A plan to tackle air pollution is due to be published this week and it is expected to recommend the scheme in an attempt to take the worst offending vehicles off the road, reports have stated.
The Prime Minister is believed to have stepped in after it was proposed to introduce “toxin taxes” on diesel vehicles in around nine or 10 cities while a further 25 councils being told to enforce less draconian measures.
Both the Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom and Chris Grayling, Transport Secretary, are said to have opposed the plan as they saw it as being difficult to target the problem cars.
Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to bring in a diesel car scrappage scheme
However, Mrs May is said it was unacceptable to punish drivers who had been urged by the government to buy diesel cars and called for those affected to receive compensation.
A government source told The Sunday Times: “A targeted scrappage scheme, limited to some towns and older vehicles, will be one of the ways of compensating drivers.
“Downing Street wanted it.”
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Payments are believed to be in the region of £1-2,000 per car but only on the condition that the owner buys a new low-emission vehicle instead.
Currently there are 11.2 million diesel cars on UK roads, 1.9m of which are more than 12 years old.
Should the government only target the five worst affected cities outside of London – Leeds, Derby, Southampton, Birmingham and Nottingham – then between 100,000 and 150,000 cars would be scrapped.
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The government is expected to introduce a scrappage scheme for old diesel cars
As part of the scheme, car manufacturers would very likely be made to match any sum given by the government, along similar lines to the previous car scrappage deal in 2009.
President of the AA Edmund King said: “It could be fiscally neutral. If it is dependent on the purchase of a new low-emission car, the government will automatically get 20 percent VAT, plus on most new cars there is an addition to the vehicle excise duty.”
Director of the RAC Foundation Steve Gooding expected difficulties with the scheme. He said: “It is not a simple matter of taking the oldest cars out of circulation.
Prime Minster Theresa May yesterday
“The worst polluters could well be much more recent models that do high mileages in congested towns and cities.”
In March, a poll for the AA found that 68 per cent of drivers would support a scrappage scheme, with just 10 per cent of motorists opposed to it.
Drivers were encouraged to switch away from petrol under Tony Blair's Government and Prime Minister Theresa May has said that would be taken “into account” in future plans.
Old diesel cars are expected to be scrapped in a government-backed scheme
During a recent trip to the Middle East, Mrs May said: “In relation to the issue of diesel cars, obviously we will be producing a new air quality plan, we've been required to do that by the courts.
“Decisions will be taken when we produce that plan – obviously we will take final decisions as to what we do.
“But I'm very conscious of the fact that past governments have encouraged people to buy diesel cars and we need to take that into account when we're looking at what we do in the future.”
A spokeswoman from the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs declined to comment to the Express.co.uk but said that their plans would be published in due course.