A council in England is to charge the owners of diesel cars more to park as it aims to tackle concerns over local air quality.
The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea has announced that it will impose a £15 surcharge on parking permits for diesel vehicles from next month, while it is widely thought that other councils in urban areas could follow suit.
Graduated permit charges apply and are based on the CO2 emissions or the engine capacity indicated at the time of the vehicle registration.
However, due to the council's concern about diesel vehicles' impact on local air quality, there is a supplementary charge for diesel fuelled vehicles except those meeting the new Euro 5 emission standards. It means the most expensive permit, for a car such as a diesel Range Rover, will be £176.
Diesel cars tend to attract lower road tax because of their low CO2 emissions, but these cars tend to have higher emissions of other gases, such as NOx, leading to fears over their true environmental impact.
The rising popularity of such cars, driven by their typically strong fuel efficiency and low CO2, is leading Government to reconsider their status as ‘green cars’.
A spokesman for Kensington and Chelsea council said: “Historically, diesels, while better on CO2 emissions have tended to be rather worse than petrol engines of similar size in relation to local air pollutants such as particulates and nitrogen oxide.
“In Kensington and Chelsea there is a problem with local air quality. We have had a small diesel surcharge since the summer of 2008.
“In April, we will remove the surcharge for the most modern diesels – those registered from the start of 2011 – because the latest generation of diesels have narrowed the gap in terms of those local pollutants. For older vehicles, we will increase the surcharge to £15.”