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Scrappage schemes will get us nowhere, warns RAC Foundation

Scrappage schemes will not get us any further in the fight against pollutants, RAC Foundation research suggests.

Analysis of MOT information for 22 million individual cars has enabled a team of academics, led by Professor Jillian Anable of the University of Leeds, to use mileage, emissions and registered keeper data to map exactly where the highest polluting vehicles are kept.

The study has shown that areas containing vehicles responsible for emitting the most air pollution (on both a per kilometre basis and over a year due to the distance they have driven) tend to be licensed at locations outside the most-populous, relatively-deprived urban areas hardest hit by harmful emissions.

Conversely, the most polluted areas tend to contain older but cleaner cars.

Where older vehicles are registered in towns and cities they are likely to be driven less far and therefore produce, overall, relatively small amounts of NOx, PM and CO2.

The report 'MOToring along: The lives of cars seen through licensing and test data' states:

“Areas with a higher proportion of households in poverty experience higher than average levels of pollution, but are responsible for emitting lower than average amounts of pollution.”

The reports adds that the older a car is the more likely it is to be a (less polluting) petrol rather than diesel model, and whatever the fuel type it will tend to do significantly less mileage than newer vehicles.

RAC Foundation’s director Steve Gooding said: “The message is unmistakable. Targeting a scrappage scheme at the owners of old diesel cars in the most polluted areas is not going to get us where we need to be.

“Scrappage might sound like a sensible quick fix, but the sad fact is that there is no easy solution to our air quality problems.

“This report confirms that those on the lowest incomes are likely to have the oldest cars but reveals that more often than not they will be petrol rather than diesel.

“This probably reflects the fact that diesels only make up about a third of the total UK vehicle fleet and many of them will have been bought relatively recently by people thinking they were doing the environmentally-friendly thing.”

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