Diesel cars face £10 charge for driving into central London'

car exhaust Government figures show exposure to air pollution contributed to more than 28,000 deaths across the UK

Related Stories

Plans to charge drivers of diesel cars about £10 to drive into central London are being considered.

The levy would be on top of the current £11.50 congestion charge for driving into the centre of the capital.

London Mayor Boris Johnson wants the new Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) to be introduced by 2020.

The Times newspaper says he will lobby the government to increase vehicle excise duty on diesel cars to encourage motorists to move to cleaner vehicles.

Only diesel vehicles meeting the Euro 6 emissions standard will be exempt, while petrol cars registered before 2006 will also have to pay.

All new cars sold from 1 January 2015 must meet the Euro 6 emissions standard, a stringent European Union directive to cut exhaust pollutants which targets a cut in nitrogen dioxide, seen as an air pollutant.

Smog over London London has been in breach of European targets on air pollution

A spokesman for the mayor said the plans will be subject to a full consultation and any levy on cars not meeting the Euro 6 emissions standard would be "likely to be a similar amount to the congestion charge".

The mayor's environment adviser, Matthew Pencharz, said: "Over recent years the Euro diesel engine standards have not delivered the emission savings expected, yet governments have been incentivising us to buy them.

"This has left us with a generation of dirty diesels."

line
Correspondent analysis Matt McGrath, BBC News environment correspondent

Many politicians argue that the root cause of London's poor air quality is Europe.

EU attempts to improve diesel engines in cars have focused on reducing carbon dioxide, but emissions of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) weren't restricted.

Many governments, not just in Britain, gave incentives to motorists to turn to diesel as a way of meeting EU climate change targets. So NO2 levels soared.

Mayor Boris Johnson will give more details about his plans to curb emissions of nitrogen dioxide in a speech to mark 60 years since the first London-specific Clean Air Act was passed, stopping the burning of coal in some areas of the city.

Campaigners now believe the mayor should take a note of the history and announce a complete ban on the dirtiest diesels.

line

The RAC foundation has said incentives, such as putting diesel cars in lower vehicle excise duty bands, was to blame.

Foundation director Professor Stephen Glaister said: "This isn't quite a mis-selling scandal, but for years ministers took their eye off the ball and encouraged drivers to buy diesels to help fight climate change.

"That has come at a cost: local air pollution. Today 10 million cars in Britain are powered by diesel engines - a third of the total.

"Part of the problem is regulation. In laboratory conditions diesel cars have met strict test criteria. Unfortunately that performance hasn't been matched on the road and now we have a significant health issue because of the dash for diesel."

The initiatives are being considered to help meet European regulations on clean air and avoid the threat of heavy fines for breaching them.

'Backward step'

But AA president Edmund King said the vehicles with the most impact on air quality were buses, taxis and trucks.

"Very few cars enter central London so these measures will have more effect on the growing numbers of small businesses and service vehicles on whom London's economy relies.

"They will have to plan ahead to change their vehicles if they are to stay in business."

Simon Birkett, from Clean Air in London, said: "In February last year Boris was planning to ban older diesel vehicles from the congestion charging area from 2020.

"What he's now announcing is a backward step. It will be a charge for some diesel vehicles 10 years after a city like Berlin actually banned the oldest diesels.

"It's like allowing rich people to pay ten quid a day to smoke cigars in pubs and schools."

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said that unless action was taken, London, Birmingham and Leeds would face dangerous levels of pollution from vehicle exhausts by 2030.

Government figures show long-term exposure to air pollution contributed to more than 28,000 deaths across the UK in 2010.

And in February, it was reported that pollution near Buckingham Palace was the worst in the UK and almost four times the EU legal limit.

Jenny Jones, from the Green Party on the London Assembly, told BBC London 94.9: "I back Boris on this but he is making a lot of promises that a future mayor will have to implement.

"He should show some political bravery and bring the Ultra Low Emission Zone forward - what is he waiting for?"

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

BBC London

Weather

London

22 °C 13 °C

BBC Local Live

  1.  
    Alice post-mortem exam to resume 08:31:

    A post-mortem examination on the body of murdered schoolgirl Alice Gross will resume later.

    Alice Gross

    Police confirmed the body found in a west London river on Tuesday evening was that of the missing 14-year-old.

     
  2.  
    Revised Southeastern services 08:23:

    There is a revised Southeastern rail service between Dartford and Victoria until the end of October because of unplanned works at Lewisham.

    For the latest disruption information go to our travel page or on Twitter @BBCLondonTravel.

     
  3.  
    Foggy start, warm later 08:14:

    Any mist or fog will clear through the morning to leave a fine day with bright or sunny spells. A few showers may develop during the afternoon but most parts should stay dry.

    The light winds and sunshine will make today feel warm with temperatures reaching 22C (72F).

     
  4.  
    08:00: Rebecca Cafe BBC News

    I'll be bringing you the latest news, sport, travel and weather from London today for BBC Local Live.

    You can also send your news, pictures and comments to london.locallive@bbc.co.uk or Tweet @BBCLondonNews.

     

Features

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • SailingGame on

    BBC Capital discovers why certain sports seem to have a special appeal for those with deep pockets

Programmes

  • European Union's anti-terrorism chief Gilles de KerchoveHARDtalk Watch

    Anti-terrorism chief Gilles de Kerchove on the threat from returning Islamic State fighters

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.