Mayor announces ‘toughest crackdown’ on most polluting vehicles in London

The mayor of London today announced details on what City Hall has described as “the toughest crackdown on the most polluting vehicles by any major city around the world”.

Making good on his promise one week into office to step up his efforts to improve London’s air quality through lowering transport emissions, Khan has launched the first stage of his Clean Air Action Plan consultation.

This includes a proposal for a new £10 emissions surcharge, dubbed the ‘T-charge’, on all pre-Euro-4 standard vehicles entering the existing Congestion Charge area from 2017, which would act as an interim measure before the launch of the Ultra Low-Emission Zone (ULEZ). This would be in addition to the current Congestion Charge fee of £11.50 per day for entering the zone between 7am and 6pm Monday to Friday.

HGVs entering Greater London must already be a minimum of Euro-4 standard due to London Low Emission Zone rules, so the T Charge plans really serve to bring all other vehicles in line with them.

However, Khan’s proposals to speed up the roll-out of London’s ULEZ and expand its reach have already rung warning bells with the freight industry.

The mayor has proposed today to bring in the ULEZ one year earlier than planned, and extend its reach beyond 2020 to London-wide for HGVs, buses and coaches, and as far as the North and South Circular for motorcycles, cars and vans.

Christopher Snelling, head of national and regional policy at the FTA, said the ULEZ plans would cause significant issues, particurlarly for van operators where compliant vehicles will only have been available to buy from this year.

“Typically, operators who rely on second-hand vehicles buy at four years old, so it will place significant cost burdens on them,” he explained.

FTA estimates that the new proposals may cost the average small operator with five vans more than £100,000 extra up front – more than 150% of the company’s annual turnover.

“No-one disputes the need to improve air quality. What we do object to is the one-sided nature of these measures – all burden and no support,” Snelling added.

FTA is therefore calling for a temporary discount on the Congestion Charge for compliant vehicles prior to the ULEZ starting.

Khan’s other air quality plans include a call to government to introduce a diesel scrappage scheme and proposals to clean-up the most polluting buses and routes.

The first consultation is open until Friday 29 July, with a second, more detailed one planned for later this year.

Speaking today, on the 60th anniversary of the Clean Air Act of 1956, Khan said:  “Just as in the 1950s, air pollution in London today is literally killing Londoners.

“That’s why I’m launching a hard-hitting plan of action to clean up our filthy air. Tough challenges call for tough measures, so I’m proposing a new £10 charge for the most polluting vehicles in central London from 2017, followed by an even stronger crackdown on vehicles pumping out hazardous pollutants.”