London Mayor Sadiq Khan recently announced that cars built before 2005 will be charged an additional £10 per day to enter central London.

This levy will be applied on top of the regular congestion charge and is going to apply to vehicle that carry pre-Euro 4 emission standards. The levy is just one part of a whole package designed to clean up London’s air.

City Hall have dubbed it the “T-Charge” and say that when it comes into effect next year it will be the toughest crackdown on the most polluting vehicles. It’s estimated that the quality of air in London is so poor that roughly 9,500 people die as a result of it each year. It’s also come to light that some 450 schools in London are in areas where air pollution is exceeding safe levels.

Mayor Khan pledged to sort out the poor quality of air so that Londoners don’t need to fear even the air that they breathe. Khan also plans to introduce what he calls the London Ultra-Low Emission Zone in 2019. The measure was to be introduced in 2020 but will instead be extended in 2020 to cover North and South Circular roads.

He also urged Transport For London to speed up their plans to ensure double-deck buses are ULEZ-compliant and plans to use the cleanest buses in the areas where air pollution is worst.

These proposals are still going to be subject to a public consultation. The first of these consultations is open until the 29th of July, with more consultations coming later in the year.

Mr Khan says that Londoners were let down by the previous mayor and the current government and that it was imperative we take action now. As such he is launching an action plan to tackle the problem. The tougher problems call for tougher measures which is why he is introducing the £10 charge for the most polluting vehicles with even stronger crackdowns planned in the future.

He also urged everyone to share their views on his plans, which he says are for the benefit of Londoners and is to protect their health. The plans were welcomed by the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Member Caroline Pidgeon, though she did say she feels they don’t go far enough. She feels that there should be an immediate switch to zero emission electric vehicles, which would mean setting up an extensive network of charging stations throughout London.

She also called for TFL to buy electric taxis to bring down the cost of electric taxis, and then lease or sell on these taxis to other taxi drivers and firms. She also suggested dropping current plans to build the Silvertown Tunnel, which she believes will only increase traffic, as well as making Enderby Cruise terminal only allow berthed boats to use on-shore electric power.

Conservative AM Tony Devenish agreed that something needed to be done about the problem, but said that vehicles made after 2005 can perform just as badly as those before. He feels it isn’t right to tax small business owners and white van men for the right to travel to work. He fully supports measures to improve air quality in London but feels these plans will only hinder strategies that can actually work.

Sue Terpilowski, the London Policy Chair at the Federation of Small Businesses echoed these concerns. She also agreed that something had to be done to improve air quality but wanted to ensure that businesses will not be the ones bearing the cost of doing so. She believes that smaller businesses especially will be hit hard by these measures. She believes that it’s about time that London had a serious debate about whether or not all of these charges are actually helping or hindering London.

She believes that these charges are damaging small businesses and that the Mayor and TFL need to work together to reform things before it becomes impossible to operate a small business in London.

© photo Mihai P