London slaps new levy on older cars, a big blow to diesel

Road markings signalling the start of the congestion charge area in central London. Those driving petrol and diesel vehicles typically registered before 2006 will need to pay an additional charge on top of the congestion charge of £11.50 (S$20.65).
Road markings signalling the start of the congestion charge area in central London. Those driving petrol and diesel vehicles typically registered before 2006 will need to pay an additional charge on top of the congestion charge of £11.50 (S$20.65).PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • London has introduced a new levy on the oldest and most polluting cars entering the city centre, almost doubling how much motorists have to pay in the latest blow to diesel.

Drivers are already charged £11.50 (S$20.65) to enter the financial district and parts of west London under a congestion charge, but those driving petrol and diesel vehicles typically registered before 2006 will need to pay an additional £10.

Since the 2015 Volkswagen emissions cheating scandal, a number of major cities, including Madrid, Paris and Athens, have announced plans particularly focused on cutting diesel emissions, including bans, fines and restrictions.

The new charge could further encourage motorists to switch to greener models in one of Europe's biggest cities as Mayor Sadiq Khan hopes the new levy to reduce toxicity, known as the T-Charge, will help save thousands of lives each year.

"The air is bad, but it's also a killer," he told Reuters.

"There are children in London whose lungs are underdeveloped. There are adults who suffer a whole host of conditions caused by the poor-quality air from asthma to dementia to suffering strokes."

Although the tax also applies to older petrol cars, diesel has been particularly maligned over the last few years, with sales down 14 per cent this year in Europe's second-biggest car market as petrol demand continues to rise.

"There's a budget coming up and the government's got to step up and announce the diesel scrappage scheme to help families and businesses," said Mr Khan, a politician from Britain's main opposition Labour Party.

Britain's Conservative government said this year that sales of new diesel and petrol cars would be banned from 2040 but has stopped short of an immediate programme to incentivise drivers to trade in their old models.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 24, 2017, with the headline 'London slaps new levy on older cars, a big blow to diesel'. Print Edition | Subscribe