Westminster City Council is set to trial emissions-based charging for diesel cars parking within Marylebone.
In a pilot programme to be introduced by the local authority from April 3, 2017, the charge for pay-to-park bays during normal parking hours will be raised specifically within F zone for diesel cars, some of the heaviest of polluting vehicles. This will apply to visitors into Marylebone, with resident permits remaining unchanged.
The surcharge will add 50% to the current rate of £4.90 per hour in F Zone. Customers are currently able to park and pay per minute up to a maximum of 240 minutes (4 hours), meaning charges will be 8p per minute in real terms and 12p per minute for diesels.
Marylebone suffers some of the highest pollution levels in London, given the area’s location, mix of land uses, building density and type, and number of vehicle trips. A “polluter pays” principle will have the aim of reducing harmful vehicle emissions in Marylebone and any money raised will be spent on initiatives to promote sustainable transport, says the council.
Cllr David Harvey, cabinet member for environment, sports and community said: “Residents and visitors tell us all the time that air quality is a key concern in central London and we have consulted with our partners and local stakeholders on this practical step in improving our health and wellbeing.
“We have had a positive impact and reduced vehicle emissions through our anti-idling campaign days and by encouraging sustainable and active travel.
“Additional charges for diesel vehicles will mean people think twice about using highly polluting cars and invest in cleaner transport that will make a real difference in the quality of air we breathe and our environment.”
The pilot measure is supported by local stakeholders and partners within the Marylebone Low Emission Neighbourhood including the three business improvement districts (BIDs).
Kay Buxton from the Marble Arch BID said: “As one of the three Business Improvement Districts in the Low Emission Neighbourhood, Marble Arch London is committed to improving air quality locally.
“We welcome Westminster’s first step to addressing air pollution through differential parking charges and hope to see a resultant behaviour change across the Neighbourhood, with people choosing not to bring diesel vehicles into the area.”
Marylebone’s location between major transport routes results in a complex urban air quality problem with levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) that exceed recommended health levels and very high levels of particulate matter (PM). This is particularly concerning given the number of young families, schools, universities, businesses and medical facilities in Marylebone, says the council.
The pilot 50% surcharge for diesel will also provide valuable insight into how the policy works practically and whether there are positive behavioural changes from it that could be replicated elsewhere.
The City of Westminster says it is responding to residents’ concerns about air quality and leading from the front to tackle it ahead of the Mayor of London’s implementation of the Ultra-Low Emissions Zones in 2019.
In 2017, Westminster will also see several green initiatives come into effect in the low emission neighbourhood which will help improve air quality. This includes freight consolidation and a new EV infrastructure with charging points upgraded and increased by up to 20 new outlets, including some rapid chargers. We are also encouraging more sustainable transport and will soon release our Walking Strategy report.