The rising battle against carbon emissions in Britain has taken another step forward. Andrea Leadsom, the environmental secretary, is looking to tackle the increasing problem of low air quality in many of our major cities.
Following the growing realisation that Diesel emissions are worse for public health than regular emissions, diesel vehicle drivers could be facing a new charge when entering major city centres. This charge could cost drivers up to £20 a day, and they could face other driving restrictions as well whilst they’re in city centres.
This new charge could be a precursor to more drastic action, especially if a satisfactory increase in air quality isn’t met. Further action could be a total ban on the most polluting vehicles from entering these congested areas in major cities
Let’s take London as an example. Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has announced a new charge on the most polluting vehicles called the ‘toxicity charge’. From 23rd October 2017, these vehicles will be charged £10 upon entering a congestion charge area. This will expand to Greater London in 2019. This is a large charge for an average commuter and will add costs to many commercial businesses. Emphasis is being placed upon enticing individuals and businesses to move towards environmentally friendly alternatives.
Beyond this new tax, Khan is also looking to bring an Ultra Low Emission Zone into force in 2019. Drivers could face a £24 daily charge if they don’t meet the zone’s requirements. This is also something that he has suggested could be expanded at a later date to include more areas of London.
Whilst all of these changes are good for many reasons, many diesel drivers are unhappy and for good reason. The previous Labour government put into place several incentives to buy diesel vehicles, such as lower road tax. This was when diesel vehicles were thought to be more environmentally friendly.
Many drivers who purchased diesel vehicles at this time, as was recommended by the government, are understandably nonplussed. Theresa May has assured these drivers, though, that sufficient systems will be put in place to support them once this new charge comes into effect.