London mayor considers daily charge for all non-electric vehicles

18 Jan 2022

London motorists could be charged up to £2 per day to drive on the streets of London from 2024 onwards – unless they switch to a zero-emission vehicle such as an electric car.

The road charging plan is one of a range of radical measures being considered by London mayor Sadiq in order to dramatically cut the pollution caused by petrol and diesel-engined cars. The proposed daily charge would apply to "all but the cleanest vehicles".

In the longer-term, Khan is aiming to bring in a pay-per-mile road charging scheme, which would feature lower rates for low-emission vehicles such as electric cars.

Khan says the action is needed based on the findings of a new report commissioned by the mayor on London’s target to achieve net zero emissions by 2030. The study conducted by Element Energy claims car traffic in the capital needs to be cut by 27% by the end of the decade for that net zero goal to be reached.

According to the report, between 2010 and 2018 greenhouses gases from workplaces and homes fell by 57 and 40 per cent respectively, while transport emissions only fell by seven per cent.

Notably, just two per cent of the vehicles currently on the roads in London are electric. While that number will rise in the coming years with the looming UK government ban on new petrol and diesel-engined cars from 2035 onwards, Khan wants faster action to reduce petrol and diesel vehicle use, and encourage walking, cycling, and the use of public transport and cleaner vehicles.

London already has an Ultra Low Emission Zone in operation in the centre of the capital to reduce toxic emissions from combustion engines, along with a Congestion Charge to reduce traffic in the heart of the city. But the report notes that the number of miles being driven in London has increased in recent years, and claims that more than a third of car trips could be made in under 25 minutes by walking. The report claims that air pollution caused by London traffic is responsible for nearly 4000 premature deaths a year. 
The report states that achieving the 27 per cent reduction in car use would require a new kind of road user charging scheme to be implemented, potentially replacing existing schemes such as ULEZ and the Congestion Charge. Drivers would pay per mile, with different rates for vehicles depending on how many emissions they product.

However, current technology does not yet allow for such a scheme. Transport for London has been tasked with researching ways to implement it, but until then Khan is considering four options to take action sooner.
The first is to expand the ULEZ zone beyond the north and south circular to cover the whole of Greater London, while maintaining the current ULEZ charged and standards. Another option is to expand the ULEZ zone and add a clean air charge for all but the cleanest vehicles.

Alternately, the ULEZ could be replaced entirely by a small clean air charge that would be applied to all vehicles on days when they are used. It would apply to all but the cleanest vehicles, and would be designed to reduce the number of short journeys.

Finally, there is the option of a Greater London boundary charge, with all non-London registered vehicles having to pay a small fee to enter the city. That is designed to counter the increase in cars from outside the capital travelling into the city. 

The schemes will now be implemented, with the chosen scheme likely to come into force in May 2024.



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