To try to reduce air pollution in London, the toxicity charge, or T-charge, will come into effect on the 23 October 2017. It aims to discourage the use of older cars on the road, as these produce the most dangerous fumes.

Now, however, FairFuelUK is seeking to raise a legal challenge against the T-charge, arguing that a full public enquiry should have preceded the decision to implement it. The challenge could have implications for every major UK town and city.

What is the T-charge?

The T-charge is expected to affect up to 10,000 vehicles every weekday, so plenty of people will find themselves needing to pay it. It targets nitrogen oxide and particulate matter, as these have a negative effect on human health. This is becoming more worrying as the population of London continues to grow.

Anyone driving through London in a car, van, minibus, bus, coach or heavy goods vehicle that does not meet the Euro emissions standards will be required to pay the T-charge. This is in addition to the congestion charge that is already in place.

What will you be paying?

The minimum emission standards are Euro 4 for petrol and diesel vehicles, and Euro 3 for motorised tricycles and quadricycles. Any vehicle that does not meet these standards will be subject to the T-charge.

The charge will apply to drivers using the capital’s roads between 7 am and 6 pm Monday to Friday. The cost to those drivers will be £10 per day. The T-charge does not apply on bank holidays, or from Christmas Day to New Year’s Day.

If you are unsure of whether you’ll need to pay the T-charge for your vehicle, you can check your vehicle registration certificate (V5C), which displays the emissions standard that the vehicle is classed as.

If your vehicle doesn’t meet the Euro emissions standards, and you fail to pay the T-charge, you will be sent a penalty charge notice for £130. This will be reduced to £65 if it is paid within 14 days.

Congestion charges(Credit – Mariordo CC BY 3.0)

Legal issues with the T-charge

The T-charge has recently come under fire from FairFuelUK. The organisation has described the Mayor of London’s decision to implement this charge as unlawful and unfair. This is because FairFuelUK doesn’t believe that drivers should be penalised for driving older petrol and diesel cars. The campaigning organisation feels that a full public enquiry should have been carried out before the decision to roll out the T-charge was made.

FairFuelUK has now launched a crowd funding campaign to raise money for a two-part legal challenge against the T-charge. This would firstly see it ask the Mayor of London to change his mind about introducing the T-charge. Secondly, it would ask the Prime Minister and the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) to investigate how else London could reduce pollution.

Learning from other countries

The T-charge may seem like a harsh idea. However, examples from around the world show that Londoners could actually have it worse. Paris, for example, has banned all cars registered before 1997 from using city centre roads between 8 am and 8 pm on weekdays in a bid to reduce pollution.

Similarly, the Mayors of Mexico City, Madrid and Athens are currently looking at banning all diesel cars from their city centres by 2025.

If the T-charge is a success in London, it is thought that it will be rolled out to 25 other UK towns and cities. These include Birmingham, Nottingham, Southampton and Derby, which will start by charging older lorries, taxis and coaches by 2019.

With legal issues against the T-charge being raised before it has even been implemented, the future of the charge is far from certain. However, one thing is for sure – urgent thought needs to be put into how else pollution can be lowered in the UK’s major towns and cities, whether this has to do with penalising certain motorists or not.

 

What can we do to reduce pollution in our city centres without penalising motorists? Or is charging drivers based on their vehicle type the only viable solution? Leave a comment below. 

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