Castaway cars

Ever since seeing a picture of some 14,000 "scrappage" cars parked on a disused airfield, I have been appalled at the shocking waste of a useful resource this represents, and wondered what, if anything, could be done to save at least some of them. An article in the Daily Mail of 13th April also lamented this incredible waste and pointed out the flaws in the supposedly 'green' benefits and other negative aspects of the scheme. I think it may not be too late to rescue some of these thousands of cars, with the scheme I outline below. Obviously, many details of the scheme need to be worked out. However, as with all such schemes, it needs plenty of publicity and the recruitment of as many people as possible, (particularly those in influential positions), to get it started. In essence, this involves giving them to some of the poorer African States as part of the £800m aid that is currently given to them (a lot of which no doubt still ends up in Swiss bank accounts!). Select the most suitable cars and drive them (with trade plates if necessary) to the nearest port. Lease car ferries (or any other suitable vessels) that are currently not in profitable service, and transport the cars to selected off-loading ports in Africa. All costs for this exercise would be deducted from the £800m aid, without making much of a dent in it. The benefits to the economies of the receiving states would very soon become apparent, with the rapid growth of small businesses involved in the reception, distribution and selling of the cars, also garages for repair and servicing. In addition, it would give an impetus to road building, and a knock-on benefit to the overall economy in the same way the growth of vehicle traffic did in this country in the 20s and 30s of the last century. The environmental cost would be small, as those moving on to the cars would give up far worse polluting 2-stroke mopeds. Also, there would be an incentive to move on to newer and better cars once the taste for motoring in general was established.

Asked on 17 July 2010 by NJ, via email

Answered by Honest John
That's a sensible idea. There will be a lot of hurdles, but it’s morally sound. A bit like some scrappage cars feeding out of the back door to Poland. But of greater benefit to the world’s poor.
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