Diesel car drivers will be confronted with extra parking charges in the centre of the UK capital as the local government acts to combat high air pollution. A parking surcharge on diesel cars will be imposed from April by Westminster City Council, in a first for Britain that may set a precedent for neighbouring boroughs to follow suit.
The pilot scheme will force diesel car drivers to pay a heavy 50% extra on top of the already high standard parking charge of £4.90 (€5.71) per hour.
Westminster’s Marylebone Road is one of at least 20 hotspots in London where particulate air pollution reached the ‘very high’ alert classification during a recent spike in the levels of toxic air across the capital.
President of the UK’s AA warned that the scheme could be adopted by other councils around the UK. He added: ‘It will hit many drivers who bought diesel cars in good faith, with many of them encouraged to buy diesel cars by previous Government incentives which promoted them. It would be better to reduce air quality by getting rid of older diesel trucks, buses and taxis which cause most of the pollution.’
The AA says that 50% of the air pollution due to diesel vehicles is caused by just 10% of vehicles.
Westminster Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, Sports and Community David Harvey said: ‘Residents and visitors tell us that air quality is a key concern in central London. Additional charges for diesel vehicles will mean people think twice about using highly polluting cars and invest in cleaner transport that will make a real difference in the quality of air we breathe.’
Air pollution, particularly the NOx gases from diesel cars, are known to cause severe health problems and premature deaths.
Politicians across Europe have grown increasingly hostile to air pollution since the Volkswagen emissions scandal, with Paris introducing measures to combat the problem. Paris and Madrid, alongside Athens and Mexico City, have pledged to ban diesel vehicles completely by 2025.
Meanwhile, Chargemaster is set to invest £15 million in 2000 charging stations across the UK in 2017, including partnerships with hotel and restaurant chains and creating 250 new Ultracharge units. It also has plans to introduce new access systems including contactless credit card payments and automatic number plate recognition, and to add new features to its website and app, that will give motorists additional information on each charging site, such as available facilities including cafés, rest stops and Wi-Fi access. Chargemaster expects that within the next 10 years, 50% of new cars sold will be electrically powered, including hybrids and pure electric vehicles.
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