London Mayor Sadiq Khan has confirmed that the UK capital will be introducing the toughest vehicle emission standard of any world city in the autumn, with his £10 (US$12.42) ‘Toxic Charge’ (T-Charge) due to start on October 23.
The news follows last week’s announcement that the UK has been issued with an official warning by the European Union (EU) regarding rising pollution levels that saw its nitrogen dioxide limits repeatedly exceeded in 16 areas, including the cities of London, Birmingham, Leeds and Glasgow. Air pollution in London is considered to be a major public health problem and the mayor has been forced to take action to tackle it head on. Currently over 9,000 Londoners die prematurely each year as a result of long-term exposure to air pollution, while 438 schools in the capital are in areas exceeding legal air quality levels.
Up to 10,000 of the oldest, most polluting vehicles are expected every weekday to be potentially liable for the new emissions levy, which will apply to motorists who own vehicles that do not meet Euro 4 standards, typically, those diesel and petrol vehicles registered before 2006. The T-Charge, also known as the Emissions Surcharge, will operate on top of, and during the same operating times, as the existing Congestion Charge (Monday to Friday 7:00am-6:00pm), so it will cost £21.50 (US$26.71) to drive a pre-Euro 4 vehicle in the zone.
To help motorists, the Mayor Khan has also launched a free online vehicle checker on the Transport for London (TfL) website, so that drivers can check whether their vehicle will be affected by the T-Charge. The T-Charge will use an ANPR (automatic number plate recognition) camera-based mechanism for enforcement, monitoring both diesel and petrol vehicles, and comparing them with a database of non-Euro 4 compliant vehicles.
Announcing the measures, Khan said, “It’s staggering that we live in a city where the air is so toxic that many of our children are growing up with lung problems. If we don’t make drastic changes now we won’t be protecting the health of our families in the future. That is why today, on the 14th anniversary of the start of the congestion charge, I’ve confirmed we are pressing ahead with the toughest emission standard of any major city, coming to our streets from October 23rd. The T-Charge is a vital step in tackling the dirtiest diesels before I introduce the world’s first Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) as early as 2019. Now is the time for the government to show real leadership and join me by introducing a diesel scrappage fund and bring in the new Clean Air Act we desperately need.”
Leon Daniels, TfL’s managing director of surface transport, commented, “London’s air quality crisis is one of the biggest challenges we face, and we are working alongside the mayor to address it. The T-Charge is a crucial part of this work and will discourage drivers of the oldest, most polluting vehicles from driving in central London.”