Air pollution is one of the most significant challenges facing London, affecting the health of all Londoners. And transport is the biggest source of damaging emissions. The recently introduced T-charge followed by the even tighter ULEZ restrictions coming into operation in April 2019 aim to significantly reduce air pollution in Central London.
The next stage in the Mayor’s ambitious project to tackle air pollution is an extension of the ULEZ restrictions to London suburbs including Greenwich. The first proposed extension in October 2020 would bring in charges for polluting heavy vehicles, anytime, anywhere in London.
In October 2021 it is proposed that ALL polluting vehicles, including private cars, vans and motorcycles pay a daily charge. Charges would affect all who drive older vehicles 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, up to but not including, the North and South Circulars. This will affect everyone who lives in or visits Westcombe Park. Hopefully we will all benefit from cleaner air, but those who own petrol cars and small vans registered before 2006 (which do not meet Euro 4 standards), or diesel cars and small vans registered before September 2015 (which do not meet Euro 6 standards), will either have to replace their vehicles before October 2021 or pay a daily charge of £12.50 whenever they are used. (Applicable registration dates vary slightly for motorcycles, larger vans and mini buses). This also includes disabled badge holders (apart from those whose vehicles fall in the ‘disabled’ or ‘disabled passenger vehicles’ tax class and are exempt from vehicle tax). Currently no ‘sunset’ period is proposed for residents so the daily charges would start for everyone affected in October 2021, less than 4 years from now.
By now all households should have received a letter from Transport for London about the proposals. If you have not, please note that the consultation runs until 28 February 2018 and more information can be found at tfl.gov.uk/airquality-consulation. For those who don’t have internet access please ask friends, neighbours or the library to help you access it. Alternatively you can write to FREEPOST TFL CONSULTATIONS.
The Westcombe Society Environment Committee will be responding but would like to include the opinions of residents. The following is a list of questions we are asking ourselves, residents may have others to suggest:
- Are the proposals a good idea in principle?
- What about the boundaries? Should the area be smaller or should restrictions on all vehicles be extended to cover the whole of London?
- Is the proposed charging structure fair? Do the proposed charges unfairly penalise those with older vehicles who only drive short distances*compared to others? Do the proposed charges unfairly penalise those who may not be able to afford to replace their vehicle as often as others and those who may not be able to afford a new enough vehicle at all? Should those who bring polluting vehicles in from outside London pay more than those who live in London?
Please let us have your views so we can reflect them in our response to TfL (Contact details for WS Environment Committee on p…).
*All petrol and diesel vehicles pollute the air with their emissions. What varies is the level of emissions. Therefore it can be argued that emissions are mileage related and that charges should be based on mileage driven as well as level of emissions. TfL also say that the best way to cut emissions is to use alternative means of transport!