Heathrow airport workers might get financial payout to encourage those with diesel cars to scrap them, to cut NO2

It is rumoured that workers at Heathrow may be offered around £2,000 each, to replace their diesel cars with less polluting electric or petrol models, to try to overcome the problem of NO2 air pollution.  Staff at Heathrow are estimated to drive around 27,000 diesel vehicles.  Detailed proposals are still being worked up, with talks due to take place with airlines, retailers, cargo operators and other airport employers. Discussions are understood to have taken place about the possibility of a pilot diesel scrappage scheme, by the DfT, in various areas of the UK with the worst pollution (perhaps Heathrow is one) before a nationwide rollout. An earlier Government scrappage scheme to get older, more polluting vehicles off the roads involved motorists being offered £2,000.  Half of this came from the government, and half from the motor industry which benefited from more new car sales. Heathrow wants the M4 out to the M25 to be included in the Low Emission Zone to clamp down on polluting lorries and vans. It hopes that by cutting this pollution (much of which is from vehicle trips associated with Heathrow) it can be allowed a 3rd runway, keeping air pollution just within legal levels.  Meanwhile, the EC is expected to soon take the next step in legal action against Britain for failing to cut illegal NO2 levels.



Heathrow Airport workers could be handed £2,000 to ditch diesel cars

By NICHOLAS CECIL  (Deputy Political Editor, Evening Standard)


Workers at Heathrow may be offered around £2,000 to replace their diesel cars with less polluting models.

The diesel scrappage scheme is being considered by airport bosses as part of moves to tackle toxic air.

Staff at the west London airport are estimated to drive around 27,000 diesel vehicles. They would be encouraged to switch to less polluting petrol, electric or hybrid models.

Detailed proposals are still being worked up, with talks due to take place with airlines, retailers, cargo operators and other airport employers.

But a past Government scrappage scheme to get older, more polluting vehicles off the road saw motorists being offered £2,000.  Half of this came from the motor industry which benefited from more orders.

The airport’s move comes after a Government-commissioned report suggested a third runway might not be able to start operating in 2025 within EU air quality levels.

Heathrow insists it can grow while meeting air quality rules, which are being widely breached in London now, and its claim is likely to be challenged in court by town halls against a third runway.

Ministers are under growing pressure to step up action to deal with air pollution, including possibly with a scrappage scheme for diesel vehicles blamed for a significant proportion of particulate and nitrogen dioxide fumes.

They have previously rejected the idea, on the basis that toxic air is largely an urban problem, rather than nationwide.

However, Whitehall officials are reported to now be re-examining the idea, including whether it could be introduced on a geographical basis.

Heathrow also called for the M4 out to the M25 to be included in the Low Emission Zone to clamp down on polluting lorries and vans, arguing that such a move could remove more than one million diesel vehicles which travel along this stretch each year.  [So to allow an unnecessary expansion of Heathrow, unnecessarily adding to the air pollution, cars and vans of hundreds of thousands of people have to be scrapped or altered, just to get Heathrow off the hook.  Logical??  AW comment]

A Heathrow spokesman said: “We need to play our part to reduce emissions and improve air quality for our local communities. That is why we are exploring innovative solutions like a diesel scrappage scheme and calling for the extension of the Low Emission Zone, to target the real source of emissions – road vehicles.”  [Many of these vehicles are associated with Heathrow – and the number would hugely increase with a 3rd runway.  AW comment].

Meanwhile, the European Commission is expected to take the next step within days in legal action against Britain for failing to cut NO2 levels which are above EU limits.

A Government spokesman said: “We are firmly committed to improving the UK’s air quality and cutting harmful emissions.”

However, it has twice been ordered by the courts to improve its plan to reduce NO2 levels.



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Government thought to be planning diesel scrappage scheme

As German car manufacturer Volkswagen (VW) faces its first legal action from a German customer over the “dieselgate” scandal, fresh reports suggest the UK Government is considering the national rollout of a diesel scrappage scheme.

Discussions are understood to have taken place about the possibility of a pilot diesel scrappage scheme in areas of the UK with the worst pollution, before a nationwide rollout

The Department for Transport (Dft) is said to be working with Defra on a scheme which will offer cashback or a discount for people to scrap old diesel vehicles in exchange for low-emission models.

Over the last 15 years, a variety of policy and tax enablers have seen diesel car sales in Britain increase from 14% to 36%. But the latest research shows that these diesel vehicles are now responsible for almost 40% of all NO2 emissions in the UK’s major cities.

The Government is reportedly keen to employ the French model, whereby drivers receive £3,300 for a vehicle trade-in, and an additional purchase bonus of up to £5,200 on a new car, depending on its environmental performance.

DfT Secretary Chris Grayling, who said the Government recognised that diesel pollution “is not something we can ignore”, noted that a number of options were on the table to provide “cleaner air in our cities”. He also confirmed that Defra would publish an air quality strategy in “due course”.

Speaking on the Andrew Marr show yesterday (5 February), Grayling said: “There was a lot of talk last week. The reality is this: we know we need to address the problem. There is a public health issue. Yes, we started with diesel cars because we thought they would reduce carbon emissions.

“Now we recognise there is a knock-on effect. We need to work through exactly what the best strategy is to deal with this. It can’t happen overnight. It’s going to have to happen in an evolutionary way, but it has to happen quite quickly.”

Discussions are understood to have taken place with the Treasury about the possibility of a pilot scheme in areas of the UK with the worst pollution, before a nationwide rollout. An announcement could arrive as early as Chancellor Philip Hammond’s Budget speech on 22 March.

Dieselgate saga drags on

The news comes as German fish and seafood producer Deutsche See revealed it would be suing VW over the diesel emissions scandal. Deutsche See, which leases 500 vehicles from the car manufacturer, released a statement which said an out-of-court settlement had become unachievable.

“Deutsche See only went into partnership with VW because VW promised the most environmentally friendly, sustainable mobility concept,” the statement read. German media reported that Deutsche See filed its complaint for “malicious deception” at the regional court in Braunschweig, near Volkswagen’s Wolfsburg headquarters.

This is the latest litigation to hit the company after it admitted to using ‘defeat devices’ in some of its most popular vehicles to cheat emissions tests; making its cars appear greener than they were. Various regulators, individual owners, states and dealers have filed lawsuits against the firm, which is now required to pay settlements and fines worth £16bn in the US alone.

Thousands of British motorists launched a lawsuit last month against VW in a claim that could end up costing the carmaker billions of pounds. Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has previously called for the capital’s drivers to be compensated, including £2.5m for Transport for London in lost congestion charge payments.

George Ogleby



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With car limit looming, Heathrow wants you to cycle to the airport

By Gavin Haines (Telegraph)

Cycling to Heathrow with your suitcase is about as practical as posting an anvil, but airport executives have pledged to make it easier to pedal to its terminals in a bid to beat proposed new traffic targets.

Telegraph Travel understands that a congestion charge could also be on the table, as Heathrow seeks to meet conditions set out by a draft national policy statement, which goes before Parliament today.

The Government has given its support to a third runway at Europe’s busiest airport, but insists tarmac would not be laid unless Heathrow could agree to meet new traffic, noise and pollution targets.

The policy would require Heathrow to make sure 55% of passengers travelling to the airport do so by public transport (or any mode of transport that isn’t a car). According to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), that figure currently stands as 41 per cent, meaning Heathrow has a long way to go.

“We will work with the Government to deliver the target,” said Emma Gilthorpe, Heathrow expansion director. “There are different ways we can do this; the first is by making public transport easily accessible.”

Gilthorpe claims Crossrail, HS2 and improvements to the Piccadilly Line will make it easier for passengers to get to the airport without using a car. Heathrow also has the country’s biggest coach station, she says, plus the largest car share scheme in Europe, which is used by thousands of airport employees.

Perhaps most interesting, however, is that Heathrow bosses believe they can encourage passengers, as well as employees, to cycle to the airport.

“What we would like to do is to create the potential to connect the airport to the rest of the [cycle superhighway network] so you can get here and get around the airport on bicycle, which at the moment is possible but challenging,” said Gilthorpe, who herself cycles to the airport.

Around 16,500 airport employees live within three miles of Heathrow, “a distance that can be easily cycled”, says the airport, which would also consider introducing a congestion charge if passengers fail to leave their cars at home.

“If we get to the point where we think we have made a lot of change and made alternatives available then an emissions charge is something we would contemplate,” said Gilthorpe.

The draft policy, which later today will be presented to Parliament by the transport secretary, Chris Grayling, also proposes the creation of a new aviation noise watchdog and the establishment of a community compensation fund to remunerate those affected by the proposed third runway.

Grayling claims the policy will reduce the environmental and social impact of the new runway, though campaigners claim Heathrow is already in breach of air quality standards and that a third runway will pose an even greater threat to public health and the environment.

“The statement does nothing to explain how, in an area which is currently blighted by illegal levels of air pollution, such a project can realistically meet compliance with legal air quality levels,” said Anna Heslop, a lawyer for ClientEarth.

“The Government has simply kicked the can yet further down the road and assumes that the developer can come up with a scheme which miraculously fixes an air quality problem which has been ongoing for many years both around Heathrow and in central London, while allowing for the airport to expand.”