James Cleverly MP: Why I asked VW to buy our old junk diesels

A series of cons have put the UK’s lungs and wallets in a bad place.  The first con was that diesel is cleaner when it wasn’t. The second con was Volkswagen’s cheating on emissions tests. Because of both, people who were trying to do the environment a favour are stuck with worse polluting vehicles.


That’s not to say that diesel isn’t a useful technology. It acts as the beating heart of Britain’s industry propelling its HGV’s, trucks, and tractors. Unfortunately diesel vehicles have been shown to emit up to 10 times the fine particles (PM2.5s and PM10s) and double the NO2 compared to petrol vehicles.  Both fine particulate and NO2 are tolerable in areas without much foot traffic, but in metropolitan areas they’re causing real problems.

London is lagging in terms of emissions standards, and recent studies show the capital’s pollution is leading to early death. London needs to get these older polluting vehicles off the roads if we’re to get cleaner air.  In the future these drivers will face big fees driving in central London from the 2020 ultra-low emissions zone.  We need a more immediate incentive to get these cars off of more of London’s roads, and this is where the Diesel Scrappage Scheme steps in.

Proposed last year by the Mayor of London, the Diesel Scrappage Scheme would offer a grant up to £2,000 per vehicle for the most polluting diesels which are more than 12 months old. It’s a great conservative solution to nudge driver in the right direction without bans or massive fines. This scheme will help people transition to newer cleaner technology, not stop people driving altogether. Regrettably vehicles owners won’t be able to cash in any time soon as there is no funding currently available for this scheme.

This is why I’m calling on Volkswagen to help fund the Diesel Scrappage Scheme. This funding would act as a goodwill gesture to make up for the potential environmental damage caused by their so-called ‘defeat devices’. This is a good alternative to a general fine, as it puts the money towards the actual problem at hand. 

It’s time for VW to make amends.  Fund London’s Diesel Scrappage Scheme, and help us get hundreds of thousands of polluting motors off the road.


James Cleverly is a GLA Conservative Assembly Member and environment spokesman, and the Member of Parliament for Braintree. He is also the Deputy Chairman of the CWF Parliamentary Board.

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