DEBATE: Is London’s new ‘T-charge’ on high-polluting vehicles a good idea?

Tube Strike Disrupts Commuters In London
Nearly 9,500 people die early each year in the capital due to long term exposure to air pollution (Source: Getty)

Is London’s new ‘T-charge’ on high-polluting vehicles a good idea?

Jin Ng, head of data and trends at easyCar.com, says YES.

While the congestion charge has been effective in reducing the number of private vehicles in central London, the T-charge is one of the first of hopefully many measures necessary to help bring emissions down to a legal and safe level.

With research undertaken by Greater London Authority and Transport for London revealing nearly 9,500 people die early each year in the capital due to long term exposure to air pollution, doing nothing is simply not an option.

Hopefully the introduction of the T-charge – ahead of a wider Ultra Low Emission Zone – will help spark a change in drivers’ mindsets and set an ambitious example for other cities.

The T-charge will also encourage people to find more eco-friendly ways of travelling in the city, such as alternatives like car-sharing schemes and public transport. As people still need to move around London, being open to sharing our transport will be key to ensuring the T-charge is effective, as well as making our city more efficient and less congested.

Read more: London's T-Charge: The world's 'toughest emission standard' starts today

Shaun Bailey, Conservative London Assembly member and menber of the Environment Committee, says NO.

As an asthmatic, I’m as keen as anyone to clean up London’s air – but the mayor’s own assessment shows that the T-charge will not work.

Transport for London documents describe the expected air quality improvement as “negligible”. What it will do is hit thousands of small businesses and London’s poorest drivers with a financial burden totalling £23m a year. It’s an additional cost that could put a local florist out of business or make the school run or a trip to the hospital unaffordable.

When official audits prove it will not work, the T-charge becomes nothing more than a PR exercise for Sadiq Khan. If he was serious about tackling emissions, he would invest more in converting London’s bus fleet – the single biggest contributor to pollution in London – to cleaner, hybrid vehicles, as well as growing electric-car charging infrastructure. These would also have a benefit outside of central London.

Instead, jobs will be lost and ordinary Londoners will be penalised for a scheme that doesn’t even scratch the surface of London’s air quality crisis.

Read more: Experts say Sadiq Khan isn't doing enough to tackle air pollution in London

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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