Days after the European Commission issued a “final warning” to Britain and four other countries to address breaches of nitrogen dioxide pollution limits, London mayor Sadiq Khan on Friday announced a new £10 charge to deal with the crisis in the metropolis.
The EC on Wednesday issued the warning to address breaches in 16 areas, including London, Birmingham and Manchester. Failure to take speedy action will invite hefty fines and legal action in the European Court of Justice (applicable until Brexit, expected in 2019).
The new charge in London from October 23 is additional to the congestion charge of £11.50 that vehicles need to pay every day to enter the city’s central zone. Together, diesel and petrol vehicles of certain vintage will need to pay £21.50 daily in the area.
Called the “T-Charge”, it is expected to be levied daily on nearly 10,000 of the oldest, most polluting vehicles that do not meet Euro 4 standards – typically diesel and petrol vehicles registered before 2006.
Air pollution in London is considered a public health crisis, with more than 9,000 Londoners dying prematurely each year as a result of long-term exposure to air pollution. A total of 438 schools in London are in areas exceeding legal air quality levels.
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.”
Khan called on the Theresa May government to join him by introducing a “dirty” diesel scrappage fund that financially compensates motorists and enables government to get a grip on killer toxic air.
Proposals include £3,500 for up to 70,000 polluting London van and minibus drivers to buy cleaner vehicles, a £2,000 credit scheme to help low-income London families scrap up to 130,000 cars and £1,000 to help scrap London’s oldest taxis.
The package seeks to incentivise ”dirty” diesel drivers to switch to cleaner vehicles and protect the health of people in London and across the country.