Drivers of diesel vehicles bought prior to 2015 will have to pay up to Â£2.45 more per-hour to park their vehicles in parts of Westminster, as part of a pilot scheme which comes into effect today (26 June).
Under the â€˜Low Emission Neighbourhoodâ€™ scheme, drivers seeking to park in â€˜zone Fâ€™ in areas around Marylebone, Hyde Park and Fitzrovia will be required to pay an increased rate of Â£7.35 per hour, compared to Â£4.90 for all other cars.
According to the council, the area around Marylebone suffers some of the highest pollution levels in London, given its mix of land uses, building density and type, and number of vehicle trips.
A â€œpolluter paysâ€ principle will have the aim of reducing harmful vehicle emissions in Marylebone and any money raised will be spent on initiatives to promote sustainable transport, the council has stated.
At present the increased charge only applies to visitor parking rates, and resident parking permit costs remain unchanged.
In a statement, the authority said that the creation of the Low Emission Neighbourhood â€“ â€œprovides us with an opportunity to test new parking-related initiatives in a controlled and measurable way, thereby informing any decision to roll these out on a city-wide basis.â€
Announcing the launch of the scheme earlier this year, Cllr David Harvey, Westminsterâ€™s cabinet member for environment, sports and community said: â€œResidents and visitors tell us all the time that air quality is a key concern in central London and we have consulted with our partners and local stakeholders on this practical step in improving our health and wellbeing.
â€œWe have had a positive impact and reduced vehicle emissions through our anti-idling campaign days and by encouraging sustainable and active travel. Additional charges for diesel vehicles will mean people think twice about using highly polluting cars and invest in cleaner transport that will make a real difference in the quality of air we breathe and our environment.â€
Alongside the diesel parking surcharge, Westminster council is also seeking to boost the uptake of electric vehicles in the borough, as well as promoting cycling and walking through its â€˜Greener City Action Planâ€™, launched in 2015 (see airqualitynews.com story).
Increased parking charges for diesel vehicles has become a primary measure for Londonâ€™s local authorities to seek to limit the use of diesel within their boroughs. Councils including Merton, Hackney, Islington, Kensington and Chelsea and Camden have all introduced similar policies in recent years.