Traffic congestion in urban areas is one of the leading causes of air pollution globally. With growing urbanisation and increased car ownership, the problem has become more severe in recent times. Although several measures have been implemented to solve the problem, such as introducing low-emission zones, promoting electric vehicles, and investing in better public transport, urban areas in the UK continue to suffer from poor air quality.
The Lambeth Council in London has recently implemented emissions-based fees, joining a growing trend that is expected to be adopted by many other areas. The plan is part of a larger scheme aimed at reducing air pollution, which has been linked to the deaths of an estimated 40,000 people in the UK every year.
Lambeth has implemented a new parking fee system, with 26 different rates for an hour of parking based on a car’s tax band and the presence of a diesel surcharge. Near Waterloo station, the cost of parking ranges from £6.30 to £13.23 per hour, with payment made through a convenient app.
As part of the recent changes, a consultation was held on May 30th, which also introduced a revised pricing structure for residents’ parking permits. These permits already take CO2 emissions into consideration. The highest band now has an annual cost of £500, up from £340.73, and there is an additional annual surcharge of £140 for diesel vehicles that do not meet Euro 6 emission standards.
Out of over 2,900 responses received during the consultation, a notable 59% expressed objections to the proposed changes. While some have hailed the move as a positive step towards reducing air pollution, others have criticised it as another attempt by the government to impose taxes on car owners. Despite this opposition, Lambeth has proceeded with the implementation, citing the importance of addressing air quality as a significant public health concern that requires a multifaceted approach.
Efforts to reduce car journeys and establish 15-minute cities, where essential local amenities are within a 15-minute walk or bike ride from residents’ homes, have generated tensions in numerous communities.
In Herne Hill, a small network of streets in south London, Lambeth is testing low-traffic schemes to prevent residential roads from becoming thoroughfares, using wooden planters as barriers. The Bath and Somerset Council have also implemented new fees starting September 8th in response to community concerns about air pollution.
What Cars Are Considered High Emission?
The cars considered high emission are typically diesel and petrol cars that fail to meet the minimum Euro emissions standards. These standards were put in place to curb the amount of pollutants, such as nitrogen oxides and particulate matter, released by vehicles on the road. The Euro standards are measured on a scale from 1 to 6, with the highest standard being the most environmentally friendly. Cars that meet Euro 4 or earlier standards will be considered high emission and subject to the new parking fees.
The Dieselgate scandal raised concerns about the accuracy of emissions testing and the levels of pollutants released by cars. Following the Volkswagen scandal, the UK government investigated the accuracy of emissions testing. The investigation revealed that diesel cars, in general, were emitting more pollutants than previously thought. The exposure of defeat devices resulted in thousands of diesel emission claims affecting multiple big-name automakers.
In addition to legal action, investigations by government bodies and independent organisations have shed light on the extent of the problem. For example, a study by the International Council on Clean Transportation found that real-world NOx emissions from diesel cars were on average seven times higher than the legal limit. More information about Dieselgate and emission claims can be found at https://www.emissions.co.uk/
What Impact Will This Have?
The impact of the new parking scheme will be three-fold. Firstly, it will incentivize drivers to switch to low-emission vehicles or use public transport, as parking in cities and towns will be cheaper. This initiative is expected to boost the demand for electric vehicles, hybrid cars, and bicycles where feasible, in a bid to reduce carbon emissions and create a more sustainable transport system.
Secondly, it will create an additional revenue stream for local councils, who could use the extra funds to invest in more sustainable transport options, such as cycling and walking infrastructure. However, some critics have raised concerns about the potential impact of the scheme on lower-income families who may not be able to afford to purchase lower-emission vehicles or may live in areas without adequate public transport links.
The Future of Air Quality in England
The introduction of double parking charges for higher polluting cars is just one of the initiatives to improve air quality in England. Improving air quality is an important step in achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, as it will help to reduce harmful emissions and improve the health and well-being of the population.