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Volkswagen emissions scandal: Minister calls for UK-wide task force

A UK-wide task force should be established in response to the Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal, according to Scotland's Environment Secretary.

Richard Lochhead has written to UK Transport Minister Patrick McLoughlin with the proposal as he voiced his "deep concern" over the German car maker's actions.

Mr Lochhead said the task force could look at the environmental impact of any breaches of emissions testing regulations and the steps that could be taken to address air quality issues.

"It makes sense to have a co-ordinated response across these islands," he said.

VW has admitted that 11 million of its diesel vehicles worldwide were fitted with defeat device software which conned testers into believing their vehicles met environmental standards.

The company recently confirmed that nearly 1.2 million vehicles in the UK are affected by the scandal.

The car maker estimates that includes around 106,000 vehicles north of the border, the Scottish Government said.

Volkswagen has also suspended the sale of 4,000 vehicles in the UK.

Mr Lochhead said: " I have discussed the situation with the UK Transport Minister and expressed my outrage and deep concern that the company may have deceived Scottish consumers and damaged our environment," he said.

"Consumer confidence is likely to be shattered and customers and governments alike must have answers.

"The Scottish Government has already been in direct contact with Volkswagen and we await their response to establish the scale of the issue in Scotland, seek assurances that customers are informed as soon as possible, and to clarify that the manufacturer will take wider responsibility for the environmental impact."

He went on: "An immediate priority is to clarify the legal remedies available for consumers and governments. Given the regulatory role of the UK Government, and the implications for all administrations, it makes sense to have a co-ordinated response across these islands.

"That is why I have today written to the UK Transport Minister calling for a UK-wide task force to be set up to look at, for example, the environmental impact of any breaches of emissions testing regulations and practical steps that could be taken to address air quality issues. I have also asked that this matter is raised at EU level at the earliest possible opportunity."

A UK Department for Transport spokeswoman said: "Our priority is to protect the public and give them full confidence in diesel tests.

"The UK government expects VW to support owners of these vehicles already purchased in the UK and we are playing our part by ensuring no one will end up with higher tax costs as a result of this scandal.

"We are also starting our testing programme to get to the bottom of what the situation is for VW cars in the UK and understand the wider implications for other car types to give all consumers certainty.

"The UK Government has been at the forefront of action at a European level to introduce real driving emissions (RDE) testing, which we believe is the best way to ensure tests accurately represent performance out on the road and ensure public confidence.

"The UK government remains in contact with the Scottish Government and will update on the progress with the UK test programme."

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