Motorists driving through the centre of London will have to pay the new ‘T-Charge’ from tomorrow.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has introduced a £10 charge for the most polluting cars in a bid to tackle pollution in the capital.
The charge mainly applies to diesel and petrol vehicles registered before 2006 and covers the same area and operating times as the existing congestion charge zone.
Drivers already face an £11.50 fee every weekday when they enter the area between 7am and 6pm, while the ‘T-Charge’ is an additional cost, taking the total to £21.50.
The mayor’s office said thousands of Londoners die prematurely each year as a result of long-term exposure to air pollution and more than 400 schools in the capital are in areas exceeding legal air quality levels.
Mr Khan said: ‘It’s staggering that we live in a city where the air is so toxic that many of our children are growing up with lung problems.
‘Londoners overwhelmingly supported my plans to introduce this £10 charge.
‘I will continue to do everything in my power to help protect the health of Londoners and clean our filthy air.’
Friends of the Earth air pollution campaigner Jenny Bates believes the mayor is ‘right to try to dissuade drivers bringing the oldest, dirtiest vehicles into central London’ but warned it is ‘only one small step towards clean air’.
AA president Edmund King said: ‘Londoners will need to be convinced that public transport is affordable and reliable enough to use.
‘Failing that, they will need assistance to convert non-compliant vehicles to ones which the mayor deems suitable.
‘This new ‘T-Charge’ should not be seen as an excuse for the London boroughs to introduce their own charging or parking schemes.’
The ‘T-Charge’ is the first of a series of new rates being introduced in London.
It is due to be replaced by a stricter Ultra-Low Emission Zone in 2020, although Mr Khan is consulting on bringing this forward to 2019.
This will apply 24 hours a day every day and mean diesel cars registered before September 2015 and petrol cars registered before 2006 will face a £12.50 charge.
The mayor hopes to expand the area covered for cars and vans up to the North and South Circular roads in 2021.