As part of his plans to improve air quality in London, Mayor Sadiq Khan has introduced a T-Charge to target high polluting vehicles in the city centre.
Earlier this year, London Mayor Sadiq Khan laid out his proposal to change the congestion zone rules in an attempt to improve the city’s air quality crisis. According to several studies, the air pollution in London has been linked to over 9,000 premature deaths each year. Today sees the first of a ‘package of measures’ come into effect.
The T-Charge will add an additional £10 charge to vehicles that do not meet the Euro 4 exhaust standard, bringing the total charge for affected vehicles up to £21.50. Most vehicles registered before 2006 are likely to exceed this limit. The T-Charge will cover the same area as the current congestion zone and operate between 07:00-18:00 Monday to Friday.
Why has the T-Charge been introduced?
Improving air quality in the capital was a key point in Mr Khan’s manifesto, and it comes alongside increasing research linking poor health and premature death with the high pollution levels. This pollution causes underdeveloped lungs in children, and conditions such as asthma, dementia and strokes in adults have been directly linked to the air pollution in the capital.
The T-Charge will be the first in a series of changes to the congestion zone, which are hoped to help tackle the “health crisis” caused by London’s increasingly poor air quality. And the congestion zone itself is due to be replaced with a far stricter Ultra-Low Emission Zone in 2020. This new zone would see diesel cars registered before September 2015 and petrol cars registered before 2006 facing a £12.50 charge. The Mayor also has hopes to extend the congestion zone up to the North and South Circular roads by 2021.
Will the T-Charge actually help?
Although it is widely agreed that measures need to be introduced to tackle the air quality problem in the capital, many have been critical of the T-Charge. When the plans were proposed in January, it was argued that the new charge would have a ‘negligible’ impact on air quality. Research conducted by TfL found that the scheme would only affect 7% of vehicles entering the congestion zone.
And while the plans have been accused of having little to no effect on air quality, there are fears that it will have a huge negative impact on small business in London. With many already struggling to cover high property, employment and logistics costs, an additional charge could put many small and micro-businesses at risk.
But supporters of the scheme have stated that the ‘grim reality’ of London’s air pollution problem means steps must be made to discourage owners of older, more polluting vehicles from driving in the capital.
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