The Greater London Authority (GLA) Conservatives have claimed that Sadiq Khan’s T-charge will cost Londoners £23 million a year while having a minor impact on air pollution.
However, the Mayor of London dismissed the claims as “misleading” while campaigners said that “inaction isn’t an option”.
The £10-per-day T-charge, or emissions surcharge, is part of the Mayor’s air quality consultation proposals (see AirQualityNews.com) and would apply to older polluting vehicles driving into the Congestion Charge zone from October 2017.
A Transport for London (TfL) assessment concluded that the daily charge will save 1-3% of NOx (nitrous oxide) emissions – a figure it described as ‘a minor improvement”. However, TfL also noted that the charge “is a strong signal from the Mayor and shows he is tackling air quality”.
TfL estimates that 7,000 non-compliant cars and 2,000 non-compliant vans will enter the T-charge zone every day.
The GLA Conservatives estimated that as the daily charge is £10 a day, if all of these 9,000 vehicles have to pay the daily charge for every working day (260 days), this will be a total cost to Londoners of around £23 million in the first year.
The GLA Conservatives said that small businesses with older vehicles will be hardest hit, facing charges of £2,600 a year – based on a £10 charge for each of the 260 annual working days, or having to pay between £3,000 and £7,000 to renew their vehicles.
London Assembly member and GLA Conservatives’ environment spokesperson Shaun Bailey said: “If the Mayor wants to impose a £23 million annual cost to Londoners that disproportionately affects small businesses, he needs a strong justification for doing so.
“Unfortunately TfL’s own assessments of his T-charge show it to be little more than a vanity project that will do next to nothing to improve London’s air pollution. The charge will inflict crippling additional costs on small businesses and sole traders that could be the difference between folding or surviving, as well as causing expense, disruption and bureaucracy for London residents.
“This entire proposal flies in the face of Sadiq Khan’s claims of being a ‘pro-business Mayor’ and imposes a pointless pollution tax that does nothing to tackle the issues it was created to combat.”
However, the Mayor claimed the £23 million cost is “highly misleading” as it assumes no behavioural change by drivers after the T-charge is introduced, although modelling indicates that 40% of drivers will switch to cleaner vehicles in the first year alone.
Sadiq Khan said: “The Tories should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves for opposing plans, supported by environment and medical experts, businesses and Londoners to tackle air pollution that will help save Londoners lives including children.
“The Tories are showing their true colours. They simply couldn’t care less about the thousands of Londoners who die prematurely every year as a result of air pollution or the children whose lungs are under developed.
He added: “The T-charge will reduce polluted emissions and will help remove the oldest, most polluting vehicles from central London’s streets – a vital first step to delivering the Ultra Low Emission Zone.”
Jace Tyrrell, chief executive of New West End Company representing West End businesses, said: “We are fully supportive of the Mayor’s consultation, and look forward to working with him and the businesses we represent to deliver a sustainable solution for improving air quality in the West End.”
Simon Birkett, Founder and Director of Clean Air in London, commented: “It’s disappointing that anyone is campaigning against action on diesel less than a week after London breached the legal limit for hourly exposure to nitrogen dioxide for a whole year in five days.”
He added: “I urge all politicians in London to press the Government to produce a plan to comply with air pollution laws and support the Mayor in implementing a bigger, stronger and smarter ultra low emission zone sooner.”