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T-charge: Everything you need to know about London’s new ‘toxicity charge’

The Government’s crackdown on dirty diesel vehicles takes another step forward in the form of the new ‘ T-charge’, which could see Transport for London generate £65,000 a day. Here is how much you will pay and what vehicles are affected.

Anyone who drives a particularly emission-heavy petrol or diesel into central London will be discouraged to do so with what Transport for London has called the ‘T-charge’, which is short for toxicity charge and was brought in by London Mayor, Sadiq Khan.

Not only could the T-charge reduce air pollution, it will raise money that could be used to improve public services and that is no bad thing. Here is exactly what you need to know about the T-charge, including the daily cost and what cars are affected and when.

When is the T-charge start date?

The 23rd of October, 2017, which means from today you are eligible to pay the ‘T-charge’ if you drive a certain vehicle into London at a certain time ─ we shall get to the nitty gritty in a second.

How much does the T-charge cost?

Motorists eligible to pay the T-charge will be fined £10 a day for driving into the T-charge zone, which is the same as the pre-existing congestion zones. Locals with vehicles registered inside of the congestion charge zone will pay £1 per day.

So taking a polluting diesel to see Big Ben could mean paying £10 plus the £11.50 congestion charge for a total of £21.50. Do that five times a week and you are paying £107.50.

Are diesel cars still worth buying?

Which petrol and diesel cars are affected?

Any petrol or diesel car that fails to comply with the Euro Euro 4 exhaust standard must pay the charge, which will include most – but not all – vehicles registered before 2006.

Quadricycles and motorised tricycles, meanwhile, will also be eligible to pay the T-Charge if behind the Euro 3 standard. Motorcycles are exempt, while HGVs, buses and coaches need to be at least Euro IV compliant to avoid the charge.

To see if your vehicle will be required to pay the T-charge, you can use the TfL checker. It is possible to check by vehicle type and number plate. You can also check your Euro emission compliance on the V5C vehicle registration document.

When is the T-charge in play?

The T-charge runs from Monday to Friday, from between 7am and 6pm. Outside of that and you will avoid being charged the extra £10. The congestion charge zone, which is where the T-charge applies, can be seen above these words.

How can I avoid paying the T-charge?

By avoiding the congestion charge zone altogether, which can be done when using most navigation apps such as Waze. Or you can travel extremely early, in the evening or wait until the weekend (where possible).

You could also buy a car that is older than 40 years or display a blue badge as both exempt you from having to pay the T-charge. Or you could, you know, walk, cycle or catch the train or tube. Probably quicker.

Another alternative is to ditch your polluting vehicle. You are potentially best off selling the car yourself, although some scrappage scheme deals are reasonable and close to, if not the same as what normal discount you could get.

Newer diesel and petrol engines are cleaner, but it seems as if other areas of the UK could follow in London’s footsteps, making it potentially sensible to consider a hybrid or electric car in years to come.

Are taxi drivers eligible to pay the T-charge?

Taxi drivers are exempt from paying the T-charge if licensed with TfL.

What happens if I fail to pay the T-charge?

Avoiding the T-charge will mean a much bigger fine to the tune of £130. Pay it within 14 days and that drops by half to £65.

How many motorists will pay the T-charge?

Since the T-charge announcement, the number of vehicles travelling into London per day dropped from 10,000 to 6,500. That means TfL could make an additional £65,000 a day, which works as £1,300,000 a month or £15,600,000 per year.

What about the Ultra-Low Emission Zone?

From 2020, London will become even stricter when it comes to vehicles that cause particularly high levels of air pollution. Any diesel vehicle registered before 2006 and diesel registered before September, 2015, will have to pay £12.50 plus the £11.50 congestion charge.

It is worth noting the 2020 date could be brought forward to 2019 if Sadiq Khan has his way, as part of a plan to help London kerb its pollution problem more quickly.

What is the problem with the T-charge?

It appears to have reduced the number of vehicles heading into central London and that is a good thing for the lungs of anyone who goes there, but critics argue it is simply a cash grab under the pretense of doing good.

The biggest issue is that the system for testing emissions is flawed, meaning there are plenty of supposedly clean diesels that meet Euro 6 standards but actually still spew out high levels of NO2 and particulate matter – neither of which are exactly good for you.

In fact, a study from 2015 found that the introduction of London’s low-emission zone failed to ‘significantly improve air quality’ over a three-year period.

But having fewer vehicles in London will reduce congestion, which will have an impact on air pollution as stop and start driving is particularly dirty. Plus the city has a great transport system, which begs the question: Why bother driving there at all?

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