It’s possible that diesel drivers could soon be charged for driving their cars into city centres. A new toxins charge could be introduced in city centres as the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs has published a consultation in which the expansion of Clean Air Zones across the UK could see the most polluting vehicles being eligible for a daily fee.
Aren’t diesels the most efficient cars on the road?
Diesels have been, in the recent past, promoted and marketed as the most efficient way to travel by car. In 2001 the government lowered the VED (also known as road tax) for diesel vehicles in an attempt to meet global climate change targets which are closely linked to CO2 emissions. Diesel cars at the time and still today emit around 20% fewer CO2 particles than their petrol equivalents so the government was keen to get more diesels on the road.
The government took things a step further in 2009 and introduced a Scrappage scheme costing £300million. Owners of old, inefficient and polluting cars and vans were offered £1000 towards the purchase of a new, more efficient and greener car. This lead to diesel car ownership rocketing from 14% in 2001 to approximately 50% in 2016.
Why has there been a recent backlash against diesels?
Further research into health and breathing problems as well as premature deaths due to pollution has lead to studies which show that while diesel cars do emit fewer CO2 emissions they do emit particulates and nitrogen oxide which are detrimental to health as they can penetrate lung tissue and cause breathing difficulties. Diesels and considered a strong contributor to an annual 9000 premature deaths in London due to pollution.
The health implications alongside the Volkswagen diesel scandal has led to further research and development into diesel engines and as a result, the subsidies and benefits we are used to seeing by owning diesel are quickly being reversed. Also seen in the recent consultation are plans to increase VED for diesel cars in the Autumn budget as the government shift its incentives to electric and hybrid vehicles such as the BMW 330e, Mercedes E350e, Nissan Leaf, Jaguar i-Pace and many more which we will see in the near future. The government is currently offering up to £5000 towards the price of a new electric car for all consumers showing their shift in policy away from diesel.
Is there going to be a diesel scrappage scheme?
This is yet to be decided by the government however very strong support from the London Mayor Sadiq Kahn as well as comments from the Transport Secretary suggesting there is one coming we imagine when the topic is discussed in Parliament it will be passed and the scheme will be active by the end of 2017.
Will I be affected?
For the moment at least, only London is going to be part of the toxicity charges, although if you live in or around a large city centre proposals could be put it place very soon.
In London from the 23rd of October cars which don’t meet the Euro 4 emissions standards will have to pay £10 (known as T-Charge) to enter the congestion charge zone on top of the £11.50 cost for all non-exempt cars totalling £21.50 per day.
However the vast majority of cars that don’t meet Euro 4 standards were built before 2005 and the operating hours of the T-Charge are the same as the Congestion Charge, between 7 am and 6 pm on weekdays. So if your car is Euro 4 compliant or you only drive into London on the weekends you won’t be affected.
A proposal has been put forward by the Mayor of London to replace the T-Charge with the ULEZ (Ultra Low Emission Zone) on April the 8th 2019 following a public consultation. This ULEZ will operate 24/7 365 days a year. Cars, vans and motorbikes which don't meet the emissions targets will have to pay a ULEZ fee of £12.50 a day.
These ULEZ targets are much stricter than those of the T-Charge, it requires petrol vehicles meet Euro 4 standards and diesel vehicles meet Euro 6 standards to not be charged. This is approximately petrol cars made after 2006 and diesel cars made after 2015. It is then proposed to increase the area of the ULEZ by a significant amount to run between the North and South circular roads in 2021.
This is clearly a much more harsh approach to reducing pollution in London and will undoubtedly have an effect on the diesel car market. You can read more about the ULEZ here (https://www.london.gov.uk/press-releases/mayoral/mayor-plans-to-introduce-ulez-in-april-2019)
So are diesels doomed?
The future does look slightly bleak for the diesel, with some experts estimating that in the UK diesel ownership is going to drop by 10% in the next 3 years and then another 15% by 2025. It seems in the future there will certainly still be a place on the roads for diesels, however, it's quite likely that the diesel has had its day (in city centres at least).