Diesel car scrappage scheme could offer low value

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The analysis revealed that bus retrofitting would cost the taxpayer £12 per kilogram of nitrogen oxides saved – 15 times less than a diesel car scrappage scheme

A report from Greener Journeys, entitled Improving Air Quality in Towns and Cities, has argued that the diesel car scrappage scheme being considered by the Government offers poor value for taxpayers’ money, and fitting older bus engines with environmental filters instead could achieve the same result for a fraction of the cost.

While the report agrees that diesel cars are the biggest producers of roadside air pollution, it states that fitting air filters to older buses is the easiest and most cost-effective way to tackle air quality concerns.

The analysis revealed that bus retrofitting would cost the taxpayer £12 per kilogram of nitrogen oxides saved – 15 times less than a diesel scrappage scheme, which could cost £175 for every kilogram saved.

Similarly, a bus scrappage scheme to replace older diesel buses with the latest clean models would cost £16 per kilogram of NOx saved, providing 11 times better value than a diesel car scrappage scheme.
The findings come amid growing speculation that the Government is to announce a diesel scrappage scheme in its new clean air strategy.

The report was written by Professor David Begg, Visiting Professor at Plymouth University and former Chairman of the Government’s Commission for Integrated Transport.

The latest Euro 6 diesel buses produce 95% less emissions than the previous models, and less emissions overall than a Euro 6 diesel car, despite having the capacity to carry 15 times the number of passengers. On a per passenger basis, modern diesel cars produce 10 times more emissions than modern diesel buses.

Professor David Begg said: “The most effective way to reduce air pollution is not to replace older diesel cars with newer models – it is to reduce the number of cars on the road and invest in clean public transport which can dramatically cut the level of emissions per passenger.

“Policy must be based on hard evidence rather than political expediency. Any Government money that is available for scrappage schemes should be directed to buses first.”

Claire Haigh, Chief Executive of Greener Journeys, added: “Air quality is among the most pressing concerns in towns and cities across the UK, and this vital report highlights the key role of buses as an integral part of the solution.

“Not only are the latest diesel buses cleaner than diesel cars, but taking cars off the road would also help reduce congestion, which causes tailpipe emissions to be increased by up to three or four times.

“Furthermore, putting buses at the centre of the air quality strategy would support UK manufacturing as at least 80% of urban buses sold in the UK are built in the UK.”

CPT Chief Executive Simon Posner said: “This important piece of work clearly demonstrates the contribution that bus travel can make to improving air quality. Operators have invested huge sums in newer, cleaner fleets and the vehicles on the road are now more environmentally friendly than they have ever been.

“The Clean Air Zones, Low Emission Zones and Ultra Low Emission Zones all present challenges for the bus and indeed coach sector. Professor Begg has confirmed what CPT has maintained for a long time, that buses are part of the solution not just a cause of the problem.”