A much better use for the ULEZ scrappage scheme

Anyway, onto something good that could come from it. London has introduced a scrappage scheme to help some residents of the new ULEZ make the move to cleaner vehicles, and a charity helping cars get to Ukraine has proposed that 4x4s traded into the scheme could, instead of being crushed, be shipped to the besieged nation, which is keen on having any working diesel 4x4s.

Unfortunately, well, the number of times ‘unfortunately’ was said in a response from London’s City Hall to this request will be familiar to anyone who has tried to get officials to go beyond their normal box-ticking remit.

“There are unfortunately some barriers that would stop this being possible”, “unfortunately, it is not a simple or quick process to change [processes]” and “unfortunately, the main request of acquiring vehicles due to be scrapped is not going to be possible”.

It’s properly depressing ‘computer says no’ stuff – as Car for Ukraine charity organiser Richard Lofthouse says, “a classic brush-off”. 

He told Autocar: “Lovers and haters [of the ULEZ] can find common cause at least in saying: ‘It’s horrible to scrap a perfectly good car. Why on earth can’t we send some to Ukraine?’ Anyone can see that this isn’t hard to do as long as the owner agrees.”

Quite so. Are you telling me it’s possible to implement the world’s largest low-emission zone, controlled by numberplate-recognising cameras, with signage and fines and the back end to run it, yet not to manually make some inputs to a spreadsheet that would let a handful of working 4x4s be donated to a country that desperately needs them?

Are we really going to crush valuable cars while charities scrabble to raise money to buy them? It can’t be impossible to implement one but not the other.

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