Drivers with older, more polluting vehicles will have to pay nearly double the amount to drive in central London.
Last month, London Mayor Sadiq Khan introduced a £10 ‘T-charge’ on older, more polluting vehicles in the city of London.
The charge mainly applies to diesel and petrol vehicles that were registered before 2006, and covers the same area as the existing congestion charge zone – shooting up the cost to £21.50 for those affected.
The opposition said that this plan would “disproportionately penalise London’s poorest drivers”.
This is Mr Khan’s latest attempt to improve air quality in London and, according to the mayor’s office, will impact 34,000 drivers a month.
Mr Khan said: “We’ve got a health crisis in London caused by the poor quality air.
He added: “Roughly speaking each year more than 9,000 Londoners die prematurely because of the poor quality air – children in our city whose lungs are underdeveloped, with adults who suffer from conditions such as asthma, dementia and strokes directly caused by poor quality air.”
The Mayor’s office will introduce an Ultra Low Emissions Zone by 2019, which will mean a lot more vehicles will have to pay the charge – by this time it’s hoped that pollution will be reduced by as much as 50 per cent.
The Ultra Low Emissions Zone will extend from the North Circular in north London to the South Circular south of the river by 2021.
The mayor has also called on the government to implement a diesel scrappage scheme to help those affected by the charges to switch to cleaner vehicles.
Black cabs, whose diesel engines have been accused for up to 18 per cent of air pollution in London, are exempt from the charge. The taxi drivers are eligible for financial assistance to switch to less polluting vehicles.
Friends of the Earth air pollution campaigner Jenny Bates said: “Clearly, the last thing individuals want is a new charge for moving around, but the grim reality is that nearly 10,000 early deaths are caused in London each year by the capital’s toxic air, so the mayor is right to try to dissuade drivers bringing the oldest, dirtiest vehicles into central London.”
She added: “It’s only one small step towards clean air though – we urgently need a programme of meaningful financial assistance to help drivers of the dirtiest vehicles switch to something cleaner, and bold policies to cut traffic overall.”
Elsewhere, the mayor is also seeking new control to ban wood burning in the most polluted areas of London.
Image source: Friends of the Earth