Toxicity Charge will hit more in the capital

It may seem some time away, but many people would normally plan to continue driving the car they have today in 2021. For those who live in the suburbs of London, that may be an expensive prospect.

In October last year London Mayor Sadiq Khan introduced the Toxicity Charge, or ’T-charge’ as part of his campaign to clean up the capital’s air.

London ULEZ emissions

The T-charge levies a £10 fee on more polluting vehicles if they enter the low-emission zone in London between 7 am and 6 pm on weekdays. This charge is in addition to the £11.50 congestion charge, making it a hefty £21.50 to take a polluting car into the zone.

Cars that comply with the Euro 4 and Euro 6 standards will not be subject to the T-charge. But, that, of course, means a lot of even slightly older cars are being caught by the T-charge.

The next squeeze comes just 14 months time, when the new Ultra-low Emission Zone (ULEZ) is introduced in central London on April 8, 2019. This will replace the T-charge and this time it will operate 24 hours every day, including weekends and holidays. The introduction of the ULEZ has been brought forward 17 months from its original intended date in 2020.

The zone will cover the area of central London encircled by Marylebone Road, Euston Road, City Road, Commercial Street, Tower Bridge Road, New Kent road, the A3204, Vauxhall Bridge Road, Hyde Park Corner, Park Lane and Marble Arch.

The new ULEZ charge will be £12.50 for cars, vans and motorcycles and £100 a day for lorries, buses and coaches. Again, this will be in addition to the Congestion Charge in that zone.

The Mayor’s office reckons this will affect “thousands more vehicles”.

They are estimating up to 60,000 vehicles a day will be affected, compared to just 6,500 a day currently paying the T-charge.

“Diesel vehicles that do not meet the Euro 6 standards and most petrol vehicles that do not meet the Euro 4 standard will have to take action or pay,” the Mayor of London’s office says.

The Mayor’s office says benefits will be:

  • NOx emissions from HGVs are expected to reduce by nearly 50 per cent.
  • Coach and non-TfL bus emissions will reduce by more than a third.
  • Emissions from cars and vans are expected to reduce by between 8% and 12%.

The Mayor has said he hopes to expand the area covered by the T-Charge to include the area up to the North and South Circular roads by 2021.

Most likely to be affected are cars produced before 2005/06, such as EU5 diesels. In 2021 they will be just seven years old and many owners would normally expect to be able to get more mileage out of them.

Similarly drivers of petrol cars produced before 2005 may well fall foul of the new regulations. The bad news for enthusiasts is that some recent classics will be subject to the charge. It is likely that historic vehicles (currently defined as pre-1978) will be exempted.

Under current plans, owners of vehicles which don’t comply will still be able to use them, but will have to pay an anticipated charge of £12 per day for the privilege. That would mean an annual cost of more than £4,500 per year for someone using a non-compliant car every day.

The squeeze on pollution in London is clearly going to get tighter as the Mayor has signalled his ambition to have a central zero-emission zone in operation by 2025, spreading to inner London by 2040 (by which time the UK ban on sale of petrol and diesel cars should be in force) and London’s entire road transport system by the 2050 at the latest.
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