There’s even more bad news for diesel drivers this week. Islington Council has announced that, from January, it will be charging those with diesel cars £2.00 extra per hour for parking in one of the borough’s 6,500 short stay parking bays. It is encouraging other London boroughs to adopt the same approach.
The parking bays in question currently cost between £1.20 and £6.00 per hour. This will increase to £3.20 or £8.00 per hour for anyone driving any type of diesel car. Unlike other penalties for diesel drivers, which target older vehicles, Islington’s charges will apply regardless of the diesel’s age or how clean it is. This means that the cheaper bays will now cost these drivers more than double what they were paying originally. Drivers of brand new diesels who park up next to more polluting older petrol models, yet have to pay more for the privilege, will no doubt be irked by the new penalty.
The reason behind the parking charge increase is that Islington has been suffering from an increase in toxic air pollution. This is widely blamed on fumes produced by diesel cars. The council wants to protect its residents and plans to do so by reducing the number of diesel cars using its roads.
Encouraging people to purchase cars that don’t run on diesel is a sensible approach to tackling part of London’s air pollution problem. However, many drivers simply can’t afford to upgrade their vehicle right now, even if they wanted to.
(Credit – Oxfordian Kissuth)
Punishing diesel drivers
Many are seeing Islington’s plan as simply another way to punish diesel drivers. The fact that even hybrid diesels, which are much cleaner than many older petrol models, will need to pay the charge is adding fuel to the fire. Those who have shelled out to purchase a hybrid model for environmental reasons will feel particularly wronged.
This is not the first time that Islington Council has targeted diesel drivers. It previously added a £96 surcharge onto diesel residents’ parking permits. This meant that residents with new diesel cars that produce the same level of emissions as older petrol cars are paying more for their permits.
The threat of higher parking charges is just one more punishment to add onto the ever growing list for diesel drivers, who have been targeted by a variety of charges recently. For example, the T-Charge has now been introduced in London. It is costing drivers of both diesel and petrol cars £10 during peak periods. While it isn’t only targeting diesel cars, it is yet another cost that they have to contend with. There are other cities across Europe that are doing the same.
Diesel drivers have also had to face bad press over the vehicles that they drive. This has been exacerbated by activists storming ships delivering new diesel cars. Despite the fact that older diesel cars are having a terrible effect on the environment, it is often the case that these cars were bought under advice from a previous government. Now, many drivers can’t afford to just go out and buy a new model, so are having to live with feeling increasingly guilty about a choice that they were officially encouraged to make.
Trying to reduce air pollution is vital. It is something which councils across the UK should be focusing on. However, with some older petrol cars releasing toxins that are just as bad for the environment – and not being targeted with additional charges – it does seem that councils are keen to raise these funds from diesel drivers in particular rather than fairly targeting only the most polluting vehicles (or even just charging everyone on the roads a tiny bit more).
The wrong approach
Antagonising diesel drivers is not necessarily the best solution. Positively encouraging the use of electric vehicles or hybrid models would be far more helpful. Islington Council’s approach, including the fining of diesel hybrid drivers, seems just as likely to spur diesel drivers on to buy petrol models as it does to promote cleaner vehicles.
Implementing a £2.00 per hour parking surcharge for diesel drivers is only likely to cause anger and frustration. If this is eventually rolled out across London, it could potentially make diesel drivers feel even more victimised that they do currently. It could even encourage drivers to turn away from hybrid vehicles in favour of petrol models.
Will Islington Council’s blanket approach work, in your view? Or does the borough need to rethink its strategy and target only the highest polluting vehicles? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.