LONDON DRIVERS FACE MORE CHARGES OVER DIRTY ENGINES
Drivers of diesel cars in London could face a $18 daily “toxicity” charge in a bid to cut air pollution.
London’s newly-elected mayor Sadiq Khan wants to bring in the fee from next year for vehicles entering the capital’s congestion charge area.
It would apply to cars, vans and lorries with diesel engines built before an EU emissions standard came into force in 2005.
An estimated 9000 such vehicles a day are thought to be affected.
Khan said air pollution, which causes an estimated 40,000 early deaths a year across the UK, had to be tackled nationwide and said the scheme could one day be rolled out to other cities.
He also called for the Government to bring in a national diesel scrappage scheme to encourage people to get rid of the most polluting vehicles.
Many motorists bought diesel cars in response to then-Chancellor Gordon Brown’s 2001 “dash for diesel”, which sparked a major change in motoring habits.
He slashed duty on diesel and reduced company car taxes because the fuel reduced carbon dioxide emissions – even though diesel produces more toxic particles than petrol emissions.
In response, the number of diesel cars on Britain’s roads more than doubled from 3.45 million to 8.2 million.
Announcing the plans for a pollution charge this week, Khan called for action across the world against the problem of air pollution.
He said: ‘Pollution clearly does not respect borders and ultimately this is a problem we can solve only with co-ordinated action across cities and countries.”
The mayor also wants to bring forward the introduction of a wider ultra-low emissions zone (ULEZ) in London from 2020 to 2019.
Under existing plans for the ULEZ, cars, motorcycles, vans, minibuses, buses, coaches and heavy goods vehicles will pay a daily charge of £12.50 ($NZ22.60) – with the pollution fee on top.
The proposed zone would be extended to cover the whole of inner London as far as the North and South Circular roads in 2020. Almost a third of the 650,000 vehicles that drive in the capital each day – some 210,000 vehicles – would face charges.
Khan has also backed calls by law firm ClientEarth, which is taking the Government to the High Court for failing to take tougher action on air pollution, for new legislation to protect air quality.
ClientEarth lawyer Alan Andrew said: “Today’s announcement should send a clear message to the UK Government that a ambitious and bold Clean Air Act is needed for the whole country.”
Jenny Bates, Friends Of The Earth’s air pollution campaigner, said: “Road traffic is the biggest problem for air pollution and diesel vehicles are the worst of all – which is why calls for a new Clean Air Act must include the phasing out of diesel.
“Diesel fumes and air pollution cause lung cancer. Forty thousand people die early in the UK each year from dirty air and many more lives, including those of a huge numbers of children, are blighted by asthma and lung infections.
“Sadiq Khan’s call for a diesel scrappage scheme is a great start to help reduce dirty diesel fumes but to save lives, we must look to both phase out diesel and reduce traffic to make the air we breathe safer.”