Health and environmental experts have welcomed the introduction of the T-Charge in central London to address concerns over air quality, and called for the measure to be adopted in other areas across the country.
The charge, which came into effect today, sees drivers of any pre-Euro IV cars or vans pay a £10 surcharge on top of the £11.50 congestion charge fee to drive in central London on weekdays (see airqualitynews.com story).
Among those to have welcomed the advent of the charge were the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH), the organisation representing local authority environmental health professionals.
CIEH said that the measure ‘will go some way to protecting the health of Londoners’ and called for the government to monitor the success of the scheme, ‘with a view to extending this initiative across areas of the United Kingdom’.
Tony Lewis, head of policy at the CIEH, said: “There is no doubt that air quality is a growing crisis that risks the health of every single Londoner. The Mayor’s decision to bring in a new charge on the post polluting vehicles is a welcome move, and an acknowledgement of the situation we are facing.
“This measure will go some way to protecting the health of vulnerable Londoners, who often lack the means and support to improve their environment. We hope the government monitors this closely with a view to extending this initiative across areas of the United Kingdom which are experiencing similarly high levels of particulates.“
Simon Birkett, founder and director of the campaign group Clean Air in London, has also welcomed the measure, describing it as an ‘important step’ in the path to cleaner air.
However, he called for the Mayor of London to go further, in implementing a ban on diesel vehicles from operating within the city.
He said: “The T-Charge is an important step on the path to banning carcinogenic diesel fumes in London.”
Mr Birkett also outlined a series of measures he claimed were vital to tackling air pollution in the city, including emissions-based road charging for drivers, as well as widening the area covered by existing charging regimes to cover the whole of London by 2020.
He added: “Let’s take the opportunity to re-engineer London and make it a world leader as we did so successfully when we banned coal and wood burning with the Clean Air Act in 1956.”
The British Heart Foundation has described the measure as a ‘step in the right direction’ and the organisation’s chief executive, Simon Gillespie, has said that the introduction of an ultra-low emissions zone in 2019 will ‘help to further clean up London’s air’.
The ULEZ will first come into effect in central London from April 2019, having been brought forward 18 months by Sadiq Khan, before its expected roll out across Greater London for heavy diesel vehicles, including buses, coaches and lorries in 2020, and up to the North and South Circular roads for cars and vans in 2021.
A survey carried out by BHF has claimed that 70% of Londoners support the T-Charge, whilst claiming that around 45% of people are worried about living in the city due to air pollution levels.
Mr Gillespie, said: “It’s extremely concerning that London’s toxic air could now force people to consider relocating, or avoid being outside.
“This is a wakeup call to how concerned the people of London are about the air they breathe. The Mayor’s toxicity charge is a step in the right direction, and we look forward to the introduction of a full Ultra Low Emissions Zone in 2019 which will help to further clean up London’s air.”