Highly polluting vehicles will be targeted with a Â£10 emissions surcharge â€“ dubbed the â€˜T-chargeâ€™ â€“ to drive in central London from 2017, under plans unveiled by the Mayor, Sadiq Khan, today (5 July).
The T-charge (T for Toxic) would apply to all vehicles with pre Euro-4 emission standards â€“ largely any vehicle registered before 2005, the Mayorâ€™s office claims â€“ which will be subject to an extra Â£10 per-day fee on top of the congestion charge.
Launching the proposals for consultation at Great Ormond Street Hospital in central London this morning, the Mayor said that the full package of proposals amounted to the â€˜most ambitiousâ€™ plan to tackle air quality in any city in the world.
Also included in the plan are proposals to introduce the central London Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) one year earlier than planned in 2019, as well as then extending the zone beyond central London to the North and South Circular roads by 2020.
The ULEZ will further tighten the requirements on diesel vehicles, which will be required to be compliant with the Euro-6 emissions standard, to be able to avoid a charge.
The Mayorâ€™s office also plans to bring forward the requirement for all double-deck buses to be ULEZ compliant from 2020 to 2019, as well as implementing â€˜clean bus corridorsâ€™ around the worst pollution hotspots.
And, in a bid to deduce the number of diesel vehicles in the capital, Transport for London (TfL) is to be tasked with developing a detailed proposal for a national diesel scrappage scheme, which will be handed to government.
Speaking to airqualitynews.com, the Mayor said that he had met with both the Chancellor and the Department for Transport (DfT) to discuss the proposals since his appointment in May.
However, the Mayor was critical of the governmentâ€™s record on tackling air pollution, and that of his predecessor, Boris Johnson, for their failure to bring the capital in line with legal air pollution limits.
He said: â€œThe scale of the failure to tackle the problem is demonstrated by the failure of the government and the previous Mayor to meet legal pollution limits. Urgent action is now needed to ensure Londoners no longer have to fear the very air we breathe.
â€œThatâ€™s why Iâ€™m launching a hard hitting plan of action to clean up our filthy plan of action to clean up our filthy air. Tough challenges call for tough measures, so Iâ€™m proposing a new Â£10 charge for the most polluting vehicles in central London from 2017, followed by an even stronger crackdown on vehicles pumping out hazardous pollutants.â€
Speaking less than two weeks after the UK voted in favour of leaving the European Union, the Mayor also highlighted the importance of cross-border cooperation in tackling air pollution.
He added: â€œThe EU has established the legal framework on tackling air pollution. Without this it is doubtful that the government would have taken the limited action they have taken before. Pollution does not respect borders.
â€œThe UK leaving the EU cannot weaken our ability to tackle air pollution. As well as the plans I have outlined today I will insist that London has a seat at the table when government starts negotiating [exit from the EU].
â€œLeaving the EU should not be the first step in us going back to being known as the dirty man of the EU.â€
Londoners have been asked for their views on the full package of measures set out by the Mayor today, as part of a consultation open until 23 July. Results of the consultation will then feed into a full set of proposals which will be unveiled in the Autumn.
The Mayorâ€™s office has also indicated that a separate strategy to encourage the adoption of electric vehicles is being drawn up, and is also likely to be launched in late 2016.