T-charge: What is the new London emissions charge and how will it affect you?

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has introduced the toxicity charge to encourage people to drive less polluting cars, in a bid to improve the capital’s air quality

Ben Chapman
Monday 23 October 2017 11:05 BST
The charge is on top of the existing £11.50 congestion charge and came into force on Monday
The charge is on top of the existing £11.50 congestion charge and came into force on Monday (Getty)

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Louise Thomas

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Drivers of older, more polluting vehicles will have to pay a daily £10 charge to drive into central London, starting from Monday.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has introduced the toxicity charge, or T-charge, to encourage people to drive less polluting cars, in a bid to improve the capital’s air quality.

What is the T-charge?

Those with petrol or diesel cars, vans, minibuses, HGVs, buses and coaches that don’t meet the Euro 4/IV emissions standards, need to pay £10 per day to drive in central London. For quadricycles or motorised tricycles, the minimum standard required to avoid paying the charge is Euro 3.

The charge is on top of the existing £11.50 congestion charge and came into force on Monday. The T-charge operates within the same zone as the congestion charge and is payable during the same hours: 7am to 6pm, Monday to Friday.

Who has to pay the T-charge?

The T-charge, officially known as the Emissions Surcharge, applies to most cars registered before 1 January 2006, when the new Euro 4 standards became mandatory. A small number of cars registered prior to this date met the standards.

Transport for London advises motorists to check their vehicle registration certificate (known as a V5C), which will advise the date of first registration. For newer vehicles, the Euro emission standard should be listed in section D2.

If your vehicle meets the required Euro emission standard, you won’t have to pay the T-charge. You can also check if you have to pay by entering your vehicle’s registration number into TfL’s T-charge checker.

Motorcycles, as well as taxis and private hire vehicles licensed by TfL, are not subject to the T-charge.

How do I pay the T-charge?

Drivers pay the T-Charge uses in the same way as the congestion charge: either via the TfL website or by the auto-pay system that debits your account each month.

If you currently use the auto-pay option for the congestion charge, your monthly statement will now also include T-Charge.

If you don’t pay by midnight on the charging day after you drove in the zone, you’ll get a Penalty Charge Notice.

Why has the Mayor of London brought in the T-charge?

The T-charge is intended to improve air quality in the capital which has frequently breached EU limits in recent years. One cause of this has been particulate and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from diesel cars, some of which are far more polluting than manufacturers had claimed. The Government previously incentivised motorists to purchase diesel cars as a way of bringing down CO2 emissions because of their superior fuel efficiency.

A range of scientific studies has linked poor air quality to increased instances of heart disease, lung cancer, stroke and asthma. Diesel cars that meet the latest Euro 6 standard emit less than one sixth the amount of NOx and one tenth of the particulate matter that Euro 3 cars emit.

Mr Khan said on Monday that consumers were already moving away from more polluting vehicles, pointing to a 20 per cent drop in diesel sales in August. The Mayor believes the additional charge will reinforce that shift and hasten the move to greener cars.

Explaining why he had introduced the T-charge, Mr Khan said: “As Mayor I am determined to take urgent action to help clean up London’s lethal air. The shameful scale of the public health crisis London faces, with thousands of premature deaths caused by air pollution, must be addressed.

“Today marks a major milestone in this journey with the introduction of the T-Charge to encourage motorists to ditch polluting, harmful vehicles.

“London now has the world’s toughest emission standard, with older more polluting vehicles paying up to £21.50 a day to drive in the centre of the city. The T-charge is a stepping stone to the Ultra-Low Emission Zone, which could be introduced as early as 2019.

“This is the time to stand up and join the battle to clear the toxic air we are forced to breathe.”

Some campaigners have said the change does not go far enough, however. “The Mayor has pledged in his manifesto to restore London’s air quality to legal and safe limits and that means he has to do a whole lot more,” said Simon Birkett, from Clean Air London.

“We want him to take steps which are bigger, stronger and smarter.”

What is the Ultra-Low Emissions Zone?

The Mayor says the T-charge is a step towards the “Ultra-Low Emissions Zone” that he has pledged to create in central London from 8th April 2019. This will operate within the same boundaries as the T-charge, but will apply 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with vehicles required to meet more stringent air quality targets.

All diesel cars, vans and minibuses, as well as all lorries, buses and coaches will have to meet the latest Euro 6/VI standards, or pay a daily charge.

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