Assembly Member Leonie Cooper Backs Mayor's Call For Scrappage Scheme

Figures show third of cars in Wandsworth run on diesel posing 'serious risk to health'

A third of cars owned in Wandsworth are run on diesel, new analysis shows. This week, hundreds of doctors, nurses, and other health professionals wrote to the Prime Minister urging the government to remove diesel vehicles as soon as possible as they are causing a “health emergency”.

Local Labour Assembly Member Leonie Cooper, who analysed the levels of diesel cars in Wandsworth, has backed the Mayor of London’s recent call for a diesel scrappage scheme and urged the government to act quickly.

Department for Transport figures show that of the 80662 in Wandsworth, 26284 are run on diesel. This is higher than the Londonwide average of 31%. There are over 67,000 hybrid electric cars across the capital, but this makes up just 3% of the total.

In 2012, the World Health Organisation classified diesel exhaust as a ‘definite carcinogen’. This was followed by a 2014 report from Transport for London (TfL) which cited that the growing popularity of diesel was a contributing factor in London’s failure to comply with EU air pollution limits. Warnings also came that year from Dr Frank Kelly, Professor of Environmental Health at King’s College London, that some diesel emissions, such as black carbon, can have a “much bigger health impact” than other pollutants.

Earlier this week, the campaign group ‘Doctors against Diesel’ said the vehicles could cause “irreversible lung damage” to children, and pointed out that the government’s own chief medical officer has said diesel vehicles should be phased out. The letter, which was sent to the Prime Minister, was signed by professors of paediatrics and public health from universities including the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Queen Mary, and the Faculty of Public Health.

This week the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, announced he has put proposals to the government for a national ‘dirty’ diesel scrappage fund to financially compensate low income motorists changing their car to a cleaner model. It is hoped such a scheme will help tackle the capital’s toxic air.

Local Labour London Assembly Member, Leonie Cooper AM, said, “Having over 26000 diesel cars on Wandsworth roads undoubtedly poses a significant risk to the health of residents. Many car owners will have bought diesel cars in good faith, when the evidence suggested diesel cars were better for the environment. With more recent evidence showing diesel to have numerous public health risks it’s only right that we do everything possible to reduce the number of these cars on our roads.

“I welcome the Mayor’s call to introduce a scrappage scheme, and I urge the government to act quickly. This is a serious health risk which demands a serious – and timely – response.”

February 17, 2017