Conservative MP proposes diesel scrappage scheme funded by ‘gas guzzler’ tax
Conservative MP Charlie Elphicke has suggested that a tax on the most polluting cars should be used to fund a diesel scrappage scheme.
The Member of Parliament for Dover would like to see a tax on “gas guzzling” cars. This, he says, will pay for a diesel car replacement scheme following the French model, including a £1,000 “bonus” paid to diesel owners in exchange for replacing their car.
In a report, Mr Elphicke identifies what he sees as “unfair” and “opportunistic” policies that “demonise” diesel cars and fail to address polluters like construction equipment, trains, buses and aircraft.
The report, titled “How Britain can lead the way in car science and have cleaner, greener roads”, proposes that the Government adopts a “gas guzzler vehicle excise duty surcharge”. This would increased VED on the most polluting cars by 40% in year one, and £300 per annum for all subsequent years.
This charge would be used to pay for the £1,000 “replacement payment” to the owners of older diesel cars, which the report estimates would cost £2bn. Interestingly, the report defines the “most polluting” cars as those emitting more than 170g of CO2 per kilometre, rather than by their NOx output.
Mr Elphicke’s report also proposes a “step change in encouraging electric-powered cars”, pointing out that “more needs to be done”, and goes on to say that “all public transport buses” in London and other “affected cities” should be “changed to zero-emission power – e.g. electric or hydrogen – in the shortest possible time”.
Construction site pollution is also in the report’s meandering crosshair, as are “ageing trains” and gas central heating. The report also proposes a ban on “construction site developers” using generators and says that “action should be taken to reduce emissions from the polluting planes of ground-based aviation”.
Diesel cars are far from the most egregious polluters, and Mr Elphicke’s report correctly points out that they represent a convenient revenue-generating opportunity for government, both local and national. But the vague and occasionally rambling nature of the document means that it’s unlikely to make much of a dent in the condemnation of diesel cars and their owners.
More importantly, the report’s definition of "gas guzzler" is simplistic, and includes a vast number of cars. Far from being a levy on supercars and luxury SUVs as reported elsewhere, the estimated £1.5bn of extra tax would be raised from buyers of relatively normal cars – some versions of the Kia Sportage, Ford Mondeo, Volkswagen Tiguan and Vauxhall Meriva generate more than 170g/km of CO2, and would therefore be subject to the proposed new tax.