Mayor calls on VW to pay London £2.5m for rigged emissions
London Mayor Sadiq Khan (pictured) is asking Volkswagen to reimburse the city £2.5m for pollution and lost Congestion Charge revenue from vehicles with higher emissions than declared, as well as compensating the owners.
Khan said he has written to the company imploring the car giant to “fully compensate” the capital’s residents affected by the emissions scandal.
VW admitted in September 2015 to installing secret software in its diesel cars to cheat exhaust emissions tests and make them appear cleaner in testing than they really were. In reality, the vehicles emitted up to 40 times the legally allowable pollution levels.
The car-maker later admitted that 11 million vehicles worldwide were fitted with the software and set aside €6.5bn to deal with the cost of the scandal. It recently announced plans to cut 30,000 jobs as it restructures its brand in the wake of the scandal.
“There is no excuse for the utter lack of action VW has taken in London since the ‘dieselgate’ scandal came to light,” Khan wrote in the letter.
“I want to see a proper commitment from them to fully compensate the thousands of Londoners who bought VW cars in good faith, but whose diesel engines are now contributing to London’s killer air.
“I also urge them to reimburse TfL the £2.5m lost in Congestion Charge revenue, which I will use to fund a new schools air quality programme that will reduce the exposure and raise the awareness of schoolchildren in London attending schools in the most polluted areas.”
It is estimated the equivalent of up to 9,400 deaths occur each year in London due to illnesses caused by long-term exposure to air pollution, with 448 London schools in areas exceeding legal air quality levels
Of the 500,000 VW vehicles registered to addresses in London, it is estimated 80,000 are model 2009-2015 which are the vehicles fitted with the cheat devices.
The mayor has also asked VW for a progress update on its commitment to re-program the defeat devices in affected vehicles and the expected completion date.
Vickie Sheriff, director of campaigns and communications at consumer group Which?, said: “Volkswagen’s customers in the UK cannot understand why US consumers are being paid compensation when there is nothing on the table for the 1.2 million owners affected in the UK.
“The Government must urgently get to grips with this matter and ministers must launch their investigation now. VW simply cannot be let off the hook any longer.”
Earlier this month, transport minister John Hayes told the House of Commons the car manufacturer had agreed to pay £1.1m to cover the cost taxpayers forked out over the scandal.
A Department for Transport spokeswoman said: “The Government takes the unacceptable actions of VW extremely seriously. That is why we have taken swift action to protect the UK consumer.
“We were the first country in Europe to complete our own tests to ensure the issue was not industry-wide.
“We continue to push VW to take action to compensate the UK consumer.
“Transport minister John Hayes recently met with the managing director for VW UK, Paul Willis, to reaffirm the Government’s calls for compensation and press for a fix to affected cars to be carried out as quickly as possible.
“The Government has not ruled out opening its own investigation into any wrongdoing by VW.”