Motor Industry News
Cars over 10 years old face scrap-heap under plan to crack down on pollution.
It may be time for thousands of Scots to 'jettison the jalopy', call the bank manager and head to a new car showroom.
Edinburgh council is set to impose a blanket ban on the oldest, most polluting cars using its roads. The draconian move is being considered because most cars a decade or more old pump out unacceptably high amounts of pollutants including potentially cancer-causing soot particles.
The city, in a plan that could be repeated across Scotland, is monitoring a pioneering scheme in Stuttgart, Germany, which from the summer will ban thousands of cars from the town centre if they cannot meet strict environmental targets.
Stuttgart's tough rules will result in many cars sold before 1996 and virtually all cars sold before 1992 being banned.
The scheme will crack down on cars that produce toxic substances such as carbon monoxide (CO), nitrous oxides (NOx), unburned hydrocarbons (HC) and tiny carbon specks known as particulates. These products are linked to breathing problems and cancers.
Although the ban will not involve checkpoints such as those used in London's Congestion Zone scheme, traffic police will have powers to check and fine drivers with old and polluting cars, unless they can prove their vehicles have been specially modified to comply with the latest emission standards.
Edinburgh council's transport chief, Ricky Henderson, said: "We need tough measures to combat pollution, so I will certainly keep an eye on developments in Stuttgart and elsewhere that we could possibly apply in Edinburgh.
"As part of our recent parking review, we are considering reducing the cost of parking permits for smaller and more environmentally friendly vehicles, but we will also continually look at other approaches to reduce both pollution and congestion, as they are obviously crucial in this day and age."
Drivers of older cars have reacted with concern to the news. Jim Willis, secretary of the Scottish BMC Car Club, said: "I can see Edinburgh doing some-thing like this. It's very like them. But it doesn't seem very fair at all. I have a 1977 MG Midget that I restored myself, including adding a lead-free cylinder head. But it was produced before these regulations were ever heard of."
Neil Greig, of the AA Motoring Trust, said: "This kind of compulsion will be counter-productive. It seems very unfair to drivers on lower incomes."
If the rules were introduced in the UK, it could mean millions of cars would be excluded from cities. The latest figures suggest that over a quarter of the 27 million cars on British roads are over 10 years old. The Stuttgart plan would fail cars that were not built to the environmental standards of 1996.
A Department for Transport insider said: "The schemes coming in on the Continent are being studied here. Modern cars are really pretty good on the toxic emissions front now, but there are still problems with older cars."
Egon Möhler, spokesman for the Stuttgart city authorities, said: "I'm pleased to hear that Edinburgh is taking an interest in our scheme. We are bringing this scheme in because the situation in the city is very serious. Under EU regulations, we are permitted to exceed the recommended levels on 37 days a year. We actually exceed them about 190 times a year.
"We hope we won't have to fine drivers, but instead that they will buy newer and cleaner vehicles or take alternative means of transport."
He added that some exceptions would apply, such as for older fire engines, ambulances and police cars, and for specially licensed historic cars. But he explained that drivers would be unable to claim that highly polluting "rust-buckets" from the 1980s or early 1990s should be granted special status as antique vehicles.
Murdo MacLeod, Political Correspondent