Owners of diesel cars could face higher road taxes and increased fines when entering Britain’s cities, in a move to lower city pollution levels under fresh calls to adhere to European emission targets.
London, which has faced increasing criticism to manage its internationally infamous pollution levels, plans to charge diesel drivers an extra £10 as part of the inner city congestion charge – with other cities following suit.
London’s mayor Boris Johnson announced the plans earlier this week – adding that the government should charge diesel drivers higher road tax – coinciding with a Labour-led initiative to create emission- free networks throughout the country, preventing older diesel cars from entering cities altogether.
Other cities, like Bradford, Birmingham, Bristol, Sheffield and Leicester, are looking to follow London’s lead in order to avoid fines from the European Commission regarding breaches on EU air pollution limits.
A recent study concluded that London’s popular shopping destination, Oxford Street, had the worst pollution levels in the world – primarily caused by diesel emissions – and later refuted by Johnson as “bollocks”.
The impact of air pollution on public health is extensive, with authorities stating that 29,000 premature deaths a year are currently caused by the UK’s pollution levels. Nine UK cities currently retain air pollution levels that are deemed unsafe.
Dr Doug Parr, chief scientist for Greenpeace UK, stated in response to the announcement, “Air pollution is a serious issue in the UK and other countries and diesel cars have to take their share of the blame.
“Whilst it is true that diesel cars are more fuel efficient and therefore have a CO2 footprint 15% lower or more, clearly a balance needs to be struck between the health dis-benefit of diesels and their CO2 emissions, especially in the context of urban environments where pollution levels are at their highest and population exposure is at its greatest.”
Petrol cars registered before 2006 would also face higher charges, while diesel cars that meet the Euro 6 emissions standard will be exempted. The charges are expected to come into force as early as 2020.
Photo source: oatsy40 via flickr