New measures are coming into force with the aim of improving air quality in London following a sharp increase in the number of vehicles entering the city.
Where previously the Congestion Charge was successful in reducing incoming traffic, more stringent measures are being introduced to reduce the amount of harmful gases such as Nitrogen Oxide being emitted.
In an effort to dissuade owners of the most polluting vehicles from entering the City, a new T-Charge comes into effect on the 23rd October 2017, targeting owners of petrol or diesel vehicles manufactured before 2005 that do not meet Euro 4 emission standards for Nitrogen Oxide.
The cost is an additional £10 on top of the congestion charge and is applicable Monday-Friday, 7am to 6pm.
What Else Is Happening?
To further address pollution in the city, a plan to replace the T-Charge with the world’s first Ultra-Low Emission Zone is currently subject to an ongoing consultation that concludes on the 25th June.
Under these plans, petrol vehicles that do not meet Euro 4 standards and diesels that do not meet Euro 6 standards will pay a daily fee of £12.50 for cars, vans and motorbikes, and £100 for buses, coaches and HGVs, from Monday 8th April 2019.
The ULEZ will be in operation 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and is in addition to the congestion charge when that is applicable, meaning it could cost as much as £24 a day.
The ULEZ will initially apply to the same area as the Congestion Charge, but the Mayor of London aims to have the area extended to include the North and South circular for heavy vehicle by 2020, and light vehicles by 2021. Black Taxis are exempt, and it will not apply to residents living in the zone until April 2022.
What are the expected outcomes?
The T-charge is expected to apply to 7% of the vehicles entering the Congestion Charge Zone and reduce poisonous gases by 1-3%, whereas City Hall hope the ULEZ will result in a 50% reduction in road transport nitrogen oxide emissions by 2020.
What about the rest of the UK?
Following numerous legal challenges and appeals the Government published their draft Air Quality plans on Friday 5th May. It laid out a framework for local authorities should they wish to set up Clean Air Zones, though stressed ‘if a local authority can identify measures other than charging zones that are at least as effective at reducing NO2, those measures should be preferred.” The draft plan is out for consultation for 6 weeks and will be published by the end of July.
Not included in the draft document was a Technical Report concerning the merits of a nationwide scrappage scheme targeting the oldest, most polluting diesels vehicles.
Environmentalists report that some “37 of the 43 regions of the UK are in breach of NO2 limits,” which is linked to a range of respiratory diseases, including asthma.
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