Sustrans supports the T-Charge: It’s time for London to fight back against air pollution

Cyclist at the Elephant and Castle in London
18 October 2017

From Monday 23 October certain types of vehicles in central London will need to meet minimum exhaust emission standards, or pay a daily emissions surcharge. We fully support this policy helping London to fight back against air pollution.

The scale of the problem

Air pollution is a silent killer. Nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter lead to over 9,400 premature deaths in London every year and tens of thousand across the country, costing the Government £20 billion per year.

Despite the existing Congestion Charge, London continues to break EU regulations and international health guidelines at a terrifying rate. In parts of London the air pollution limit was broken just five days into 2017, whilst 95% of Londoners live in areas that exceed World Health Organisation emission guidelines by 50%.

The T-Charge is one of a range of desperately needed measures that will make a real difference to Londoners.

What is the T-Charge?

The T-Charge (that’s T for toxicity) is the Greater London Authority (GLA) and Transport for London’s (TfL) first step in creating the world’s first Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ). From October 23, motorists will be charged an extra £10 for entering the zone, on top of the current Congestion Charge if they intend to use a vehicle that doesn’t meet the minimum Euro emission standards or that is pre-2006 registered.

This will apply to those driving in the Central Congestion Charge Zone and is anticipated to impact over 10,000 vehicles, with money raised reinvested in London's transport system.

In addition to introducing the T-Charge, the Mayor of London is leading a range of measures designed to encourage Londoners to switch from using private vehicles to taking public transport or to complete their journeys on foot or bike.

A total of £875 million has been put aside to tackle air quality over the next five years, with over £300m to be spent on clean buses and £65 million to support cleaner taxis and local measures to improve air quality. In addition, TfL's cycling budget stands at a record£770m over the next five years to make cycling easier and safer, which includes a programme of new Cycle Superhighways and the roll out of a network of Quietways, in partnership with Sustrans as an expert delivery partner.

Matt Winfield, Director for Sustrans in London responding to the introduction of the T-charge said:

“London needs the T-Charge. We’ve been struggling to breathe without it.  

"We are in total support of it, both in principle and in practice. And we need plenty more policies like it, policies that discourage people from driving polluting cars in polluted cities. 

"That’s how you can really change behaviour and at the same time create the funds necessary to build the healthy streets this great city needs.”

The shape of things to come

A TfL consultation revealed a 63% support for T-Charge, reflecting the growing public awareness around the issues of respiratory illnesses, heart disease and cancers related to over-exposure to nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter.

London cannot afford to be short-sighted in reducing pollution which is affecting a whole generation of young people. With a staggering 438 London schools in areas exceeding legal air quality levels, tough action is needed to reduce this public health timebomb.

The consequences for our health and environment from air pollution are avoidable.  If we improve air quality, we improve quality of life for everyone.

Sustrans is pleased to support TfL and the GLA in laying down the toughest emission standards of any world city. Since the introduction of the congestion charge 14 years ago, we need a new approach to tackling London’s vehicle pollution.

For more information, images and interviews please contact:

Anna Galandzij, Senior Press Officer at Sustrans, [email protected], 07557 915648
Amy Jones, Press and Media Officer at Sustrans, [email protected]