London has taken a new step to curb air pollution today: an additional £10 congestion charge on the dirtiest petrol and diesel vehicles.
The Toxicity Charge – AKA T-Charge – has been imposed on top of the existing £11.50 Congestion Charge levied on drivers entering central London on weekdays, but only for vehicles that do not meet standards for nasty PM and NOx emissions. Typically these were registered before 2006.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has emphasised the effect of air pollution on public health. According to data, thousands of premature deaths are caused each year in London owing to dirty air, while it may also contribute to conditions like dementia.
"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," he says.
"This is the time to stand up and join the battle to clear the toxic air we are forced to breathe. I am transforming our bus fleet, getting rid of the oldest polluting taxis and creating healthier streets that will leave a lasting legacy for our children. But I can't do this alone. I urgently need government to step up and face their responsibilities by delivering a diesel scrappage fund and a Cleaner Air Act that is fit for purpose. I also need Londoners to work with me so we can phase out the use of the dirtiest polluting vehicles from our roads."
Environmental group Greenpeace welcomes today's introduction. Clean Air Campaigner Rosie Rogers comments: "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."
Drivers of up to 34,000 vehicles are expected to pay the T-Charge each month. The Transport for London website has more info on checking if vehicles are eligible for the charge, introduced at 7am this morning.