Westminster City Council is to crackdown on “polluting” diesel cars by imposing a 50% parking surcharge on drivers, it has been announced.
Council bosses will deter diesel drivers from entering the borough by charging them 50% extra on top of the current rate of £4.90-an-hour to park.
Councillor David Harvey, Westminster’s Cabinet member for environment, sports and community, said: “Residents and visitors tell us all the time that air quality is a key concern in central London.”
From April 3 the rate will raise to £7.35 an hour.
As many as 40,000 people die early in the UK every year as a result of air pollution, largely attributed to roads and large factories. Diseases of the lungs and heart, and asthma are among other associated complications.
Data analysed for the RAC Foundation found that last year English councils generated £756 million from parking operations. Any money raised will be spent on initiatives to promote sustainable transport.
According to the city council, Marylebone’s location between major transport routes “results in a complex urban air quality problem with levels of Nitrogen Dioxide exceeding recommended health levels.”
Cllr David Harvey, Cabinet Member for Environment, Sports and Community, said: “Additional charges for diesel vehicles will mean people think twice about using highly polluting cars and invest in cleaner transport that will make a real difference in the quality of air we breathe and our environment.”
A spokesman for the council said: “Customers are currently able to Park and Pay per minute up to a maximum of 240 minutes (four hours), meaning charges will be 8p per minute in real terms and 12p per minute for diesels.
“Marylebone suffers some of the highest pollution levels in London, given the area’s location, mix of land uses, building density and type, and number of vehicle trips.
“A “polluter pays” principle will have the aim of reducing harmful vehicle emissions in Marylebone and any money raised will be spent on initiatives to promote sustainable transport.”
However, RAC’s public affairs manager Nice Lyes believes that the higher fares will not make much of a difference. He commented, “Adding a 50% parking price surcharge to diesel vehicles is unlikely to make any difference to London’s air quality and will simply be seen as another charge on motorists.
“Westminster’s approach is also arguably not evidence based as the surcharge takes no account of how much a vehicle is used and therefore how much it is contributing to the air quality problem – which calls into question the council’s assertion that they are applying a ‘polluter pays’ approach to tackling the problem.
“Without question tough action needs to be taken to improve air quality – our concern is that this blanket approach that applies to all diesel cars, regardless of how polluting they are, is simply the wrong one.
“The problem needs to be looked at in its entirety with any measures fairly applied across all contributors to poor quality air, be they private or business motorists, private hire firms or bus operators.”