Owners of diesel and petrol vehicles manufactured before 2005 that do not meet Euro 4 emissions standards for nitrogen oxide (NO2) and particulates will be required to pay an extra ‘T-Charge‘ £10 fee to enter central London from 23 October 2017.
This could affect around 10,000 vehicles per day.
A free online vehicle checker on the Transport for London website has been launched to allow drivers to check whether their vehicle will be affected:
City Hall said its research showed people living in London’s most deprived communities, often by busy roads, are on average exposed to 25% higher levels of harmful NO2 pollution.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “It’s staggering that we live in a city where the air is so toxic that many of our children are growing up with lung problems.”
“The T-Charge is a vital step in tackling the dirtiest diesels” he added.
Scientists estimate the death toll from toxic air in London is up to 9,400-a-year.
So should you buy a diesel car? What about petrol? How about electric?
There is still much confusion about vehicle emissions. Petrol engines were popular in the UK for many years, then sales of diesel engines started to increase. When there was much political focus on climate change and CO2 levels, diesel engines were encouraged in the UK, because diesel engines emitted lower levels of CO2, which also had a direct relationship to better fuel economy. Vehicle tax systems – Vehicle Excise Duty (Road Tax) and Company Car Tax – were developed to encourage motorists to buy cars with lower CO2 emissions – which in turn encouraged people to buy diesel cars.
However as well as CO2 emissions, cars also have emissions that impact on local air quality, such as NOx, and particulates. Euro standards ensured that cars became cleaner in terms of local air quality emissions, but such emissions didn’t influence any tax incentives or penalties.
So motorists were encouraged by government incentives to buy diesel cars, primarily due to lower CO2 emissions, and these cars were also more economical than their petrol equivalents.
There is currently a media backlash against diesels, which have higher levels of emissions that impact on local air quality, but there is no financial disincentive for buying a diesel car, apart from the extra purchase cost of a diesel engine versus a petrol engine. So should diesel cars be demonised? If they are, then motorists will lose out on diesel cars potentially being more than twice as economical as petrol cars in real-life driving – as well as having lower CO2 emissions. With petrol and diesel prices currently being on par with each other, this means that a petrol car could be more than twice as expensive in terms of fuel costs. So which engine technology will motorists be tempted to choose?: diesel.
However the answer is to choose the fuel or engine technology that is most efficient for your individual driving patterns. For lots of long distance journeys, diesel is likely to be best. For low mileage drivers undertaking a range of different journeys, a petrol car might offer the lowest whole life running costs. For people mainly driving short distances in urban areas, with occasional longer distances, a plug-in petrol-electric hybrid may be best. For drivers who only ever drive short distances, an electric car would be ideal, as it has zero tailpipe emissions – both in terms of CO2 and local air quality.