London’s T-Charge is now in force. Set to affect up to 34,000 drivers a month, the levy is designed to tackle the dangerously high levels of pollution in the capital, but what have you made of it?
Drivers of older vehicles on central London streets are now required to ensure their cars, vans, lorries and motorcycles meet minimum Euro emission standards or face a daily charge.
This T-Charge, known officially as the Emissions Surcharge, is in addition to the already established Congestion Charge and will operate in the same zone in a bid to clean up the city’s hazardous levels of air pollution.
Many agreed we should be tackling the number of cars in our cities, but question if this is the best way to do it. Wavechange was happy to see pollution levels being challenged:
‘I welcome any move that will cut down the number of cars in cities but I don’t think it’s right that those that have the money can pay to pollute.’
While malcolm r also questioned who this charge will have the biggest effect on:
‘It has been pointed out that small traders with older vehicles, poorer people who cannot afford to change cars, are examples of those affected. Discriminating by the ability to pay seems wrong – and maybe just a way to raise money… The basic solution is clear – limit the number of vehicles. But not by charging. Simply bar vehicles from entering at certain times, except for essential ones. Provide means to access public transport out of the congestion area, and run a decent service. But it requires more than short-term thinking, so it won’t happen.’
Alternative ways to reduce pollution
It wasn’t long before the community began to question how else we could reduce pollution. Duncan made a fair comparison between London and Edinburgh:
‘Edinburgh City Council has just announced it will (after consultation) be imposing a £40 yearly levy on its diesel car owners for parking in the city – (Glasgow Herald). It’s part of their Parking Action Plan to ‘enhance the quality of life’. This will affect those who park outside their home as well. It will be a surcharge on existing parking permits, the highest being £475/year.’
While bishbut highlighted the need for better public transport:
‘If all cities and towns had an efficient, cheapish public transport system there would be no excuse for anyone driving their cars into town. To me, it is only stupid people who have must drive to work every day to sit in traffic jams and cause more pollution by doing so.’
Alfa made the observation that it’s not just car pollution London is affected by, but also air pollution:
‘Winds generally go in an easterly direction. With several busy motorways including the largest car park in the world, planes and traffic jams around Heathrow all spewing out pollutants, raising the toxicity charge is going to make little difference to air quality. When London is so polluted, you have to ask why they would build a third runway at Heathrow. If those in government really want to lower pollution, start working on creating a new London airport on the east side of the city.’
What do our experts say?
We asked our Which? Car expert Adrian Porter about the T-Charge and pollution:
‘Air pollution doesn’t just affect London. In my last article on emissions (April 2017), we featured a woman who lives in Southend who suffers real problems on days with high air pollution.
‘And as part of the UK Air Quality Plan published in July this year, local authorities are having the onus put on them to make use of a range of measure to reduce air pollution from vehicles, which can include changing road layouts at congestion and air pollution pinch points, encouraging people to buy electric vehicles, retrofitting buses to give lower emissions, investing in new low-emission buses and generally encouraging the use of public transport.
‘But if these measures fail, local authorities could introduce restrictions, such as charging zones or stopping certain cars from using designated roads at set times.
‘Local councils have until March 2018 to submit their plans, so we could potentially see more congestion charge zones popping up around the country in the future.’
What do you want your local council to do to tackle air pollution? Are you doing anything to reduce the amount of pollution you pump into the air? Will your next car be a hybrid or even electric?