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Monday, August 23, 1999 Published at 14:36 GMT 15:36 UK


Scrap for cash

Some 1.5million cars are scrapped every year in the UK

Car owners could be paid hundreds of pounds to get rid of their old bangers under proposals to cut air pollution.

The BBC's Tom Heap: "Affects cars more than 10 years old"
Up to eight million drivers would get cash for their cars under a "scrappage system" similar to that already run by other countries.

A government task force is examining different options before recommending a plan.

The Commission for Integrated Transport (CIT), a thinktank in the Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions, believes the idea will also reduce congestion and be fair to people on lower incomes.

Professor David Begg, of the CIT, said the aim of the scheme was to get older cars off the road.

"You could do that by banning them, but the problem is that it tends to be people on lower incomes who are dependent on older vehicles," he told the BBC.

[ image: A similar scheme operates in France]
A similar scheme operates in France
But he said more work was needed to try and encourage drivers to switch to public transport - in France a similar scheme pushed up sales of new cars.

Another suggestion is to offer £500 in cash, or a public transport pass worth £1,000.

But with up to eight million drivers who could claim, the cost of the scheme could run to a prohibitive £7bn, more than the total of this year's transport budget.

The government is also keen to avoid paying money for cars that are about to hit the scrap heap, says the BBC's Tom Heap.

Christopher MacGowan, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said he welcomed the move, even though it was unlikely to boost new car sales.

The scheme was different to those introduced in France and Ireland which saw new car sales rise markedly.

Christopher MacGowan: "The effect will be small in terms of economic impact"
"This is a purely environmental measure," he said. "The idea is there would be some migration from very old cars to less old cars," said

He added that it was not at all likely that the scheme would go ahead, and if it did, it could be applied in local areas only.

Only one in 10 cars in the UK are responsible for almost half the pollution, with 1.5 million cars scrapped every year.

An estimated 20,000 people a year are killed by pollution-related diseases.

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