Motorists will pay a total of £21.50 a day to drive a pre-Euro 4 vehicle into central London zone
London’s £10 Toxicity Charge (T-Charge), which aims to help tackle, the capital’s lethal air pollution has come into force.
Owners of pre-Euro 4 vehicles, namely older, petrol and diesel vehicles will pay the new T-Charge plus the Congestion Charge (C-Charge), a total of £21.50 every weekday from 7am to 6pm as they drive through the restriction zone. It is estimated that this new charge will affect 34,000 vehicles every month.
Pre-Euro 4 vehicles are typically those registered before 2006 that are approximately over 12 years old, but Transport for London (TfL) advises anyone driving a car registered before 2008 to check to see if their vehicle is eligible for the charge.
To help motorists TfL has made a free online vehicle checker available on its website www.tfl.gov.uk/t-charge. To date more than 153, 000 have used the checker to discover if their vehicle will be affected.
The T-Charge will also prepare Londoners for the early introduction of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone, which London Mayor Sadiq Khan is proposing to introduce as early as April 2019. This will affect thousands more vehicles in the existing congestion zone, including all diesel vehicles that do not meet Euro 6 standards.
Filthy air is causing a public health crisis in the capital. Recent health data has shown 7.9 million Londoners, nearly 95 per cent of the population live in areas exceeding the World Health Organisation guidelines on toxic air quality particles (known as PM2.5).
It is estimated that air pollution contributes to thousands of premature deaths each year in the capital as well as exposing the population to greater risks of dementia, strokes, and smaller lung sizes in children.
The Mayor launched the T-Charge as he visited the UCL Day Nursery in Bloomsbury, which is situated off a busy road in Gower Street. The nursery has installed a ‘pollution room’ where children can play indoors on days with high or very high pollution. The room is used to help young children struggling with asthma or breathing difficulties made worse by toxic air. Recent research by Aether showed 438 London schools and 27 nurseries were situated in areas exceeding legal air quality.
Mayor Khan, said: “As Mayor I am determined to take urgent action to help clean up London’s lethal air. The shameful scale of the public health crisis London faces, with thousands of premature deaths caused by air pollution, must be addressed.
“Today marks a major milestone in this journey with the introduction of the T-Charge to encourage motorists to ditch polluting, harmful vehicles.
“London now has the world’s toughest emission standard with older more polluting vehicles paying up to £21.50 a day to drive in the centre of the city. The T-charge is a stepping-stone to the Ultra-Low Emission Zone, which could be introduced as early as 2019.
“This is the time to stand up and join the battle to clear the toxic air we are forced to breathe. I am transforming our bus fleet, getting rid of the oldest polluting taxis and creating healthier streets that will leave a lasting legacy for our children. But I can’t do this alone. I urgently need government to step up and face their responsibilities by delivering a diesel scrappage fund and a Cleaner Air Act that is fit for purpose. I also need Londoners to work with me so we can phase out the use of the dirtiest polluting vehicles from our roads.“
Since the T-Charge was announced in February, the daily number of older more polluting vehicles driving into the Congestion Zone has decreased by about 15 per cent. TfL, which monitored the findings, expect that the T-Charge will result in a further decrease, with 40 per cent of motorists upgrading their vehicles and an expected 10 per cent switching to alternatives such as public transport in the first year.
TfL will use a camera-based mechanism for enforcement of the T-Charge, monitoring both diesel and petrol vehicles.
With over half of air pollutants in the capital caused by road transport and a fall in the UK sales of diesel vehicles, the Mayor wants to encourage people to make fewer journeys in polluting vehicles, and consider ditching the dirtiest diesels for greener methods of transport including using public transport, walking or cycling.
The T-Charge is just one of the wide range of measures the Mayor is introducing to improve London’s toxic air quality - from doubling funding spent on tackling air quality to £875million (over the next five years) and consulting on an earlier introduction of the central London ULEZ in 2019, to developing proposals for a London-wide Euro VI standard for heavy vehicles in 2020 and expanding the ULEZ up to the North/South Circular roads for cars, vans and motorcycles in 2021.
Prof. Stephen Holgate, from the Royal College of Physicians said: “We now know that air pollution has a substantial impact on many chronic long-term conditions, increasing strokes and heart attacks in susceptible individuals. The implementation of the T-charge is a positive step towards cleaning up London’s air and it is showing to the world that it is possible to change behaviours in order to reduce the harms from high polluting vehicles. Such actions will improve the air quality in our capital and in time will save lives."
Rosie Rogers, clean air campaigner at Greenpeace said: “It’s just not possible to clean up London’s air without cleaning up London’s roads, and that’s why we support the Mayor’s first steps to tackle air pollution by introducing the T-charge. London now joins Paris, Copenhagen and many other progressive cities in taking urgent steps towards removing polluting diesel cars from their streets. The ball is now in the court of our national government to grasp the urgency of the crisis and take more meaningful action to reduce the illegal levels of air pollution seriously harming people’s health across the UK.”
This initiative comes just days after the Mayor’s office announced a two-year collaboration with the Alan Turing Institute to explore ways to improve how air quality is modelled in London by collating existing and new data sources and enhancing the way it is analysed.
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