As with all seemingly good intention from a new law or ruling, there are always opposing views – and the new T-Charge, which came into force in London on 23 October 2017 is no exception to that. The charge has been brought in to try to reduce pollution in London. Owners of older, more polluting vehicles wishing to drive into London will now face a £10 charge; a charge that is meant to discourage such drivers and make them consider using alternative transport options – or buy a new car.
The Congestion Charge zone, which has been operating since 2003, currently charges drivers £11.50 to drive into central London. The area reaches from Marylebone in the north of the zone to Newington and Lambeth in the south and from Mayfair in the west to the edge of Spitalfields in the east.
From October 23 for those drivers susceptible to the new T-Charge, their daily incursion will rise to £21.50 – that’s £107.50 for a working week, and it is estimated that 34,000 motorists will be affected by the new charge.
While the intention to reduce emissions is laudable, one of the arguments against the charge is that this will inevitable penalise poorer drivers who may not be in a position to change their cars. Of course, the counter argument is that drivers have had ‘plenty of time’ and they were forewarned that the charge was coming.
Shaun Bailey, London Assembly member, has accused Sadiq Khan’s tax of being an attack on small businesses as well as the capital’s poorest drivers. He suggests that the T-Charge will only reduce NOx emissions by around 1-3% along with small businesses having to pay around £2,300 per annum.
The T-Charge requires cars to meet the current Euro 4 standards for emissions of NOx (nitrogen oxides) and PM (Particulate Matter). Already described as the world’s toughest emission standard, the charge is likely to be a mere forerunner before the introduction of the ULEZ – Ultra-Low Emission Zone – in 2019.
It’s not just older cars that will be penalised; classic car daily drivers will be hit too, as the charge will effectively ‘pass’ cars built after 2005 and hit those built before 2005. Interestingly, while there appears to be no exemption from the T-Charge for historic vehicles, as it currently stands they are likely to be exempt from the ULEZ.
The T-Charge will inevitable penalise drivers of older diesel vehicles as well – and of course it was only a few years ago that diesel was being pushed by certain bodies as the way forward, encouraging drivers to change from petrol to diesel. Put simply, if you do long hauls on the motorway then diesel may be right for you; if you drive into big cities or make small journeys then it is not and you were ill-advised.
London isn’t the only big city crusading on this though; Paris has spoken of its intention to ban the combustion engine entirely by 2030, with a full diesel ban by 2024. Currently Paris bans vehicles registered before 2000 from its streets and along with this, Paris has also removed free parking on Saturdays. The authorities also tried an ill-conceived ‘free public transport’ policy within the city, until it was noted that it was costing 4 million euros a day: well, who would have thought?