Battle lines are being drawn over the U.K. government’s draft consultation proposals for dealing with air-quality issues being blamed on diesel-vehicle emissions.

Auto-industry representatives have broadly welcomed the proposals, but some environmentalists have slammed the draft as “weak” and “toothless.”

The proposals open the door to a possible diesel scrappage scheme aimed at Euro 1-5 diesel vehicles and Euro 1-3 gasoline vehicles whose owners could be offered a payment of £8,000 ($6,206) to put toward an electric-vehicle replacement. The Euro ratings represent graduated acceptable emissions levels.

The draft also calls for investigations into whether speed humps should be removed from city streets to help reduce emissions from vehicles braking and accelerating.

Endorsing the proposals, Mike Hawes, CEO of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, says: “SMMT welcomes the publication of government’s proposals for improving air quality across the U.K., which clearly states that the new Euro 6 diesels which have been on sale for the past two years will not face any penalty charges anywhere in the U.K.

“We’re encouraged that plans to improve traffic flow and congestion, as well as increase uptake of electric and hybrid vehicles, will be prioritized in towns and cities.”

Jeremy Hicks, Jaguar Land Rover U.K. managing director, says: “Our latest Euro 6 diesel engines are among the cleanest in the world. Highly efficient diesel particulate filters now capture 99.9% of all particles and we are making further emissions improvements with every new model-year vehicle. Pollutant emission levels for new diesels are comparable to the equivalent petrol engines, but with carbon-dioxide emissions that are around 20% lower.

“Our customers demand greater fuel economy all the time, and new diesels deliver that.”

While also welcoming the proposals, Gerry Keaney, chief executive of the British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Assn., criticized the lack of detail in the draft that was published only after environmental lobbyists from ClientEarth won a court case forcing the government to act.

“It’s disappointing that the government is still consulting on a scrappage scheme, rather than publishing detail about what incentives drivers of older diesel vehicles will be given and when the scheme will come into effect,” Keaney says.

“We believe a national scrappage scheme could make a significant contribution in reducing (nitrogen oxide) emissions by removing some of the oldest, most-polluting cars and vans from our roads. Commercial-vehicle operators trading in older diesel vehicles should be given a cash incentive – either money off or a discounted lease rate when choosing a Euro 6 van or Euro VI truck.”

Opposing the government’s draft, road-safety charity Brake questions the effectiveness of the proposals in reducing the 40,000 deaths annually that the Royal College of Physicians blames on poor air quality.

“These proposals had to be dragged out of the government, who fought against it in the courts, and lost,” says Gary Rae, campaigns director for Brake. “We will study the details in the plan, but the headlines give us cause for concern. It appears the government has abdicated responsibility for reducing air pollution to local authorities.

“If any issue needs tackling on a national – and international – level, it’s this one. We have a national health emergency, and the government is kicking the issue into the long grass. “The idea that removing speed bumps on local roads will somehow reduce air pollution is both cynical and misguided. Most of the pollution comes from vehicles traveling on major routes in big urban (areas).

“Speed bumps are a red herring and the government knows it.”