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London T-Charge should apply to more diesels, says ClientEarth

London’s £10 T-Charge, aimed at discouraging older vehicles from being brought into the city centre, doesn’t go far enough to tackle the problem of pollution in the capital, according to environmental law firm, ClientEarth.

smog - credit London Assembly

The T-Charge is aimed at discouraging older vehicles from being brought into the city centre.

Announced in February, the T-Charge comes into force today and covers the same area as the Congestion Charge Zone. Drivers bringing cars and vans which don’t meet the Euro 4 standard will pay an extra £10, on top of the £11.50 Congestion Charge, to drive into this area between 7am and 6pm on weekdays. As Euro 4 came into force for all new registrations from January 2006, most fleet vehicles won’t be affected.

ClientEarth, which last week threatened to take new legal action against the UK government over poor air quality, has criticised the plans for not going far enough. It believes the area should be expanded and apply to more diesel vehicles.

Simon Alcock, a spokesperson for the firm, said: “The charge needs to be part of a much bigger package of measures to urgently bring down air pollution. The Mayor is moving towards this but there are big policy levers that only the UK government can pull and ministers need to deal with dirty diesels through the tax system and, with the motor industry, provide help for people who bought diesel cars in good faith to move to cleaner forms of transport.”

For London, the bigger changes arrive on the 8th April 2019, which is when the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) will launch, depending on the results of a consultation held earlier this year. Covering the same area as the Congestion Charge Zone, this will operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and mandates at least Euro 6 compliance for diesel cars, vans and minibuses, or Euro 4 for petrols.

The Mayor of London estimates that this will cut NOx emissions from road transport by 50% in 2020. And it will be expanded to the North and South Circular, for light vehicles, in 2021. It means cars sold as recently as 2014, and vans sold in 2015, would be charged £24 to enter the city centre, including the £11.50 Congestion Charge.

London could also offer a hint of what’s to come for other Clean Air Zones, for which the government has offered research and implementation funding expected to be raised through reforms to taxation for diesel vehicles.

Leonie Cooper AM, chair of the London Assembly environment committee, said: “The London Assembly Environment Committee believes even greater results could be achieved if the measures were implemented at a faster pace.

“Raising awareness of this and discouraging the use of diesel vehicles in favour of much cleaner alternatives, should be top of the agenda. So should complementary measures to help shift the transportation habits of Londoners towards cheaper alternatives such as buses or trains and healthier options such as walking and cycling. ‎We’d also like the government to step up and introduce a diesel scrappage scheme to help move things forward quickly.”

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Alex Grant

Trained on Cardiff University’s renowned Postgraduate Diploma in Motor Magazine Journalism, Alex is an award-winning motoring journalist with ten years’ experience across B2B and consumer titles. A life-long car enthusiast with a fascination for new technology and future drivetrains, he joined Fleet World in April 2011, contributing across the magazine and website portfolio and editing the EV Fleet World Website.