T-Charge kicks off with promise of rapid expansion

The world’s toughest emission standard, the £10 Toxicity Charge (T-Charge) which levies an extra £10 on any journey in to central London by an older diesel vehicle, has come in to force, with plans to expand it quickly to the North Circular, and made to include vehicles made as recently as 2016.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has introduced the charge, which is additional to the Congestion Charge, in a bid to improve London’s air quality.

The Mayor says up to 34,000 vehicles every month could be liable for the T-Charge, which affects those that do not meet the Euro 4 standards for both PM and NOx emissions. Pre-Euro 4 vehicles are typically those registered before 2006 that are approximately over 12 years old, but TfL advise anyone who has a car registered before 2008 to check if their vehicle is eligible for the charge.

The Mayor intends to introduce an Ultra-Low Emission Zone as April 2019 which will affect thousands more vehicles in the existing congestion zone, including all diesel vehicles that do not meet Euro 6 standards – some made as recently as 2016.

He is further planning to extend the geographical coverage of the zone from its current Westminster footprint out to the North Circular, taking in all of Hammersmith & Fulham, and parts of Barnet, Brent, Ealing and Wandsworth.This will include Park Royal, home to many trade vehicle fleets, and a favourite destination for commercial vans and lorries.

It will also be extended to include all vehicles, even motorcycles, although it is likely that black cabs will remain controversially exempt.

Back cabs have beens hown to produce 18% of NOx air content in central London, but will not pay the charge, despite the accusation that Uber vehicles, which have not received wholehearted support from the Mayor, are mainly petrol hybrids.

Small businesses are expected to suffer from the changes, with many operating diesel vehicles with no realistic alternative. Businesses operating pre-2016 vans from a Park Royal base could be faced with a £24 charge per vehicle per day just to leave their depot.

The Mayor argues that poor air quality 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 has been estimated that air pollution contributes to thousands of premature deaths each year in London.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq 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.”

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.”

Dr Penny Woods, Chief Executive of the British Lung Foundation, said:”The T-charge is an important step from the Mayor of London to deter our most polluting and harmful vehicles from entering Central London. We know toxic air can have a devastating impact on our health. This is why we look forward to seeing the Mayor go further and launch the Ultra-Low Emission Zone. However, if we are ever going to properly tackle air pollution the Government must commit to a fair and ambitious new Clean Air Act.”

Richard Jackson, Director of Sustainability for University College London (UCL) Estates, said:“ We are delighted to welcome the Mayor Sadiq Khan to UCL and the UCL Nursery today. UCL is committed to helping to tackle air pollution and to create an environment for London in which children, students and staff breathe cleaner, healthier air. As a London-based university with a successful, popular nursery, we share the concern and attention he is giving this issue. We believe the T-Charge could be a significant move in helping to improve the air quality in London. This supports our own commitment to improve air quality and safeguard our UCL and wider London community.”

Simon Gillespie, Chief Executive at the British Heart Foundation, said:“ Dangerous levels of air pollution in London are damaging the heart health of the public – both healthy individuals and especially those with heart disease. There is an urgent need to protect Londoners from inhaling toxic air – particularly from small particles in diesel fumes which our research shows increases the risk of potentially fatal heart attacks and strokes. We welcome this bold action from the Mayor and hope that he continues to prioritise cleaning up London’s harmful air.”

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