London’s long awaited “T-Charge” went into effect in the city last week, effectively limiting access to central London by those driving the oldest and most heavily polluting vehicles still on the road (those not meeting Euro 4 standards). Such vehicles must now pay a £10 daily tax.
This new tax is applied on top of the existing £11.50 congestion tax, it should be noted; and is applied during the same weekday hours (7:00 am to 6:00 pm). So, people driving old polluting vehicles in central London during those hours could end up paying up to £21.50 a day for access, making for a pretty strong deterrent. (Better to just take the Tube?)
The new charge functions as part of the city’s efforts to address a rapidly growing air pollution problem, and is to be intensified over the coming years — with the eventual goal being the imposition of a zero-emissions zone in the center city.
London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan commented: “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.”
Andy Miles, on sister site EV Obsession, adds some context:
Sadiq Khan is a member of the Labour Party, so his policies are more socialist than those of our right-wing government. Their policy is summed up by David Cameron’s famous remark of “cut the green crap”. It is only through insistence by the courts, and the European Union, that they have even started to address environmental issues. They have done nothing at all about the unacceptable levels of air pollution in many UK cities.
My view is that politicians are far too slow to act, and the measures that they propose are much too far in the future to be of any relevance for today’s problems. The government talk about a vague ban on ICE vehicles in about 30 years’ time. At that time, it will be much too late, and they will not even be in power to take any responsibility for it. Such proposals are mere “window dressing”, that do not even begin to respond to the environmental crisis in which we are living today. They make it appear that an indifferent government have a commitment to improvement, which, in reality, they entirely lack.
Sadiq Khan is, commendably, introducing this measure today, with a promise of more to come. This is probably in the shortest timescale that can practically be achieved, to allow time for alternatives to be implemented. London is moving towards electric taxis and buses, and the tube trains of course are already electric. We all know that EVs are the future, but we need the future right now. Let us hope that this positive action proves to be the small pebble thrown in the mountain that causes an avalanche of beneficial change.
As a reminder of the value of such efforts here, a 2015 study found that around 10,000 Londoners are currently dying every year as the result of long-term air pollution exposure.