The diesel-fuelled air pollution crisis should be solved by making motor companies recall and upgrade the dirty cars they sold, experts said on Wednesday.
Current UK plans are focused on making diesel drivers pay to enter cities and a possible taxpayer-funded scrappage scheme.
But both the German and French governments have already required that manufacturers including Volkswagen, Opel, Audi, Mercedes and Renault fix over a million diesel vehicles which were spewing far higher levels of toxic pollution on the road than in official tests.
“The polluter should be paying, not the consumer and not the taxpayer. But the UK is doing nothing,” said Greg Archer, at NGO Transport & Environment and a former UK government air pollution expert. “If the car industry was required to recall those vehicles and upgrade the after-treatment system that would make a sizeable difference to the air pollution problems in our cities.”
“We wouldn’t need to pay for a scrappage scheme,” he added. “It is time for the [manufacturers] who caused the problem to pay for the problem.”
This solution is also backed by ClientEarth, the environmental law firm that has twice defeated ministers at the high court over the government’s illegally poor air pollution plans.
“The prime minister must get on the side of ordinary car drivers and stand up to the car industry by committing to a programme of mandatory vehicle recall, compensation, random on-road testing and a clean-car label based on real-world emissions,” said ClientEarth chief executive James Thornton. More than 35,000 VW owners have joined a class action lawsuit for compensation VW, following the lack of government action.