90s diesels at risk

Scrappage scheme threat to older diesel VWs

As the government puts forward a scrappage scheme to rid our roads of older diesels, swathes of ‘would be’ classics could be wiped out forever. Here’s what’s being proposed, what cars will be affected and how it will affect owners of older diesel VWs…

In a repeat of events in 2009, the government is likely to offer a financial incentive to encourage owners to trade in their older diesel cars for a more environmentally friendly car instead in an attempt to improve air quality in our cities. The new initiative is being considered in an attempt to combat the 9,000 premature deaths a year linked to air pollution in London alone. The 10 most polluted UK cities will be targeted first, with Birmingham, Derby, Leeds, Nottingham and Southampton also being identified as areas where existing guidelines for nitrogen oxide (NOx) are being exceeded.

As far as we understand, the scrappage programme will only affect owners of diesel cars in excess of 10 years old that are registered in polluting hotspots. The compensation for switching to a low emission model is likely to be between £1,000-£2,000, but what proportion of this would be made up by a manufacturer contribution, as in 2009, is yet unknown. There is also talk of offering retro fit filters to reduce emissions on older cars, but again, how this would work in practice remains unclear.


We all care for the environment and none of us want pollution to harm our health. However, the argument against introducing a car scrappage scheme is compelling. Most agree that crushing a perfectly usable older car is a waste of resources when you consider that another car will need to be manufactured to take its place. The fact that these new cars may be battery powered and therefore require specialist recycling one day themselves adds to the irony.

There’s also growing evidence that older diesels aren’t all to blame for high pollution levels; in a BBC radio interview, Manchester Business School’s professor Karel Williams was quoted as saying that the most modern EU6 diesels are five times more dirty on the road as they are during laboratory conditions. Moreover, that EU6 cars are on average roughly 60 per cent as polluting as the 15 year-old EU3 cars that are about to be scrapped. Their fine particle emissions are particularly dangerous to health.

The thing is, while being offered money to trade in something like a Mk2 Golf diesel is unlikely to encourage an old car enthusiast to suddenly take their car to the nearest new car dealer, it’s cars that have been hidden away in storage, or abandoned in a garage that are most at risk. The real undiscovered gems. If a relation or someone who’s not at all interested in the car gets wind of the fact they can make money from trading it in for a new car, then it’s likely to be lost forever.

What do you think?


The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of VW Heritage

2 responses to: Scrappage scheme threat to older diesel VWs

  1. If the terms being suggested are accurate, I find it astonishing that it is assumed a person driving a 10+ year old vehicle will have the necessary finance to move up to a new car, even with a (potential) inducement of £2000.
    There is usually a reason people drive older cars.
    Like the previous scrappage scheme, a “vehicle” for the reasonably well off, to prosper.

  2. “How to keep your Volkswagen Alive” illustrator Tosh Gregg has said, “Scrapping your car and buying a new one every 10 years is a dirty business.”

    Both the MOT and these scrapping schemes are a tax on the poor and the environment, and welfare for the Car Corporations.

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