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Assembly wants tougher congestion charge standards

The London Assembly’s health and environment committee has called for qualifying standards for congestion charge discounts to be tougher than currently proposed by Transport for London (TFL)

Cars and vans should only get a discount on London’s congestion charge if they meet tougher emission standards than currently proposed, according to the London Assembly.

Transport for London (TfL) is currently consulting on changes to congestion charge discounts, but the London Assembly’s health and environment committee believes qualifying standards for the discount should be stricter than put forward in TfL’s proposals.

The letter to TfL was signed by London Assembly member Murad Qureshi on behalf of the health and environment committee

The letter to TfL was signed by London Assembly member Murad Qureshi on behalf of the health and environment committee

In a letter, agreed by the Assembly’s health and environment committee this week (February 5), members welcomed TfL’s proposal to replace the Greener Vehicle Discount with a new discount based on updated criteria.

However, the committee also suggested that cars and vans should have to meet the EU’s Euro 6 standards for vehicle pollutant emissions to qualify, rather than the proposed Euro 5 standards.

The letter, signed by committee chair and Labour member Murad Qureshi, states that the application of the Euro 5 standard for air quality “does not seem likely to add much valueâ€?.

The committee also agrees in the letter that, having taken evidence on London air pollution and traffic emissions, the Euro 5 standard “is failing to get emissions down, particularly from diesel enginesâ€?.

Euro standards

According to the letter, the Euro 5 standards allow nitrogen dioxide emissions from diesel cars of 180mg/km, which is more than the 150mg/km required of petrol cars in the Euro 3 standard that was superseded eight years ago.  It allows diesel vans to emit 280mg/km of nitrogen dioxide.

The Euro 6 standards, which come into force in 2014, will limit nitrogen dioxide emissions from diesel cars to 80mg/km.

As a result, the letter to TfL states: “The Euro 6 standard is expected to reduce these emissions more effectively, and some petrol and diesel vehicles currently on the market meet its requirements. Therefore the Committee supports the principle put forward in your current consultation document that car models qualifying for the congestion charge discount should have the lowest emissions on the market – this would be better represented by a Euro 6 qualifying standard than by the proposed Euro 5.â€?

The letter was drafted in response to Transport for London’s consultation on its congestion charge proposals, which ends today (February 8).

TfL is proposing that the criteria for vehicles qualifying for congestion charge discounts should be tightened, which could see many owners of diesel and hybrid cars that are currently exempt having to pay the full charge (see airqualitynews.com story).

The proposals have prompted criticism from motoring groups that some drivers will have to pay more to travel in London, while air quality campaigners have also voiced concerns that the stricter criteria does not go far enough to significantly improve air quality in the capital. (see airqualitynews.com story).

The committee’s response was supported by the majority of the nine-member committee, with the exception of the two Conservative Party members. The response is available on the London Assembly website.

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Roland Gilmore
8 years ago

The health and environment committe’s move is obviously in right direction however, for real improvements, we need far more than increased taxing of vehicles. An accelerated “greening” of London should be the central part of policy and one the GLA are only tinkering around with currently. Plants not only sequester CO2 but can matabolise a range of pollutants too. An integrated approach to addressing air pollution, water polution and climate change is essential if society desires to slow the rate of climate change and to protect human health, food/water security and ecosystems. The Mayor and GLA have been sitting on the fence for far too long over backing green infrastructure against the proposed Thames Tideway Tunnel. Data is being sent to DEFRA Minister Richard Benyon MP that categorically proves that there is an alternative to the tunnel that is sustainable, affordable and can act before a tunnel ciould be operational. A “green blue” strategy is being employed throughout the developed world; except in London. Such a strategy leads to mitigation of both river and air polution. It is high time the UK government and the GLA applied its green rhetoric to embracing this strategy as policy and adopt the methodology required before we are lumbered with the “one trick pony” of the sewer extension. We can only afford to spend £4.2Bn on environmental improvement once in a generation and the Thames Tideway Tunnel aint it!