Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has announced a surcharge for drivers of cars with high levels of emissions, to be added to the existing congestion charge.
Dubbed the toxicity charge, the £10 fee is designed to lower emissions in the capital city and encourage drivers towards greener vehicles for use in town. Coupled with the £11.50 congestion charge, this means drivers of polluting vehicles could have to pay £21.50 every day to enter central London.
The move will affect the motor trade, as well as drivers of both new and used cars that incur the surcharge. The vehicles most likely to fall foul of the new regulations, however, are those manufactured before 2005, which may fail to meet the Euro 4 standards for emissions. Both petrol and diesel cars may come into this category, and it is estimated that up to 10,000 vehicles a day could be penalised.
Pollutants, including nitrogen oxide, are thought to be responsible for up to 10,000 premature deaths in London every year, as well as a rise in health problems including asthma and heart disease. Air pollution levels in London are higher than in Beijing, China, and the city is routinely criticised for exceeding limits set by the European Commission.
Mr Khan, who was elected as Mayor of London in May 2016, is a strong supporter of both greener transportation and environmental issues. His policies include a freeze on ticket prices for public transport within the city, and investment into the network.
The toxicity charge is not without its critics, who describe it as a vanity project. They claim that the new scheme will have only a negligible effect on pollution, but a negative impact on business in the city, especially small businesses and sole traders.
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As well as the toxicity charge, the Mayor has unveiled plans to extend London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone, planned for launch in 2020, to cover the North Circular and South Circular roads. The current Low Emission Zone affects drivers of larger diesel vehicles, mostly commercial Lorries and vans.
Another proposed idea is a scrappage scheme for diesel cars, to encourage drivers in the capital to switch to a greener vehicle. Transport for London is investigating the practicalities, with support from the Mayor.
Drivers of high polluting vehicles may already find they need to pay more for road tax than owners of more environmentally friendly cars, so it’s worth looking into the potential extra costs that are associated.
The toxicity charge, or T-charge, will come into effect on October 23rd, 2017. To find out whether your vehicle will be affected by the new charge, see Transport for London’s Emissions Surcharge Checker.