Westminster to trial diesel-based parking surcharges

Fri, 27/01/2017

As part of its drive to create a greener, healthier city, Westminster City Council is set to trial emissions-based charging for diesel vehicles parking within Marylebone.

In a pilot programme to be introduced by Westminster City Council from 3 April 2017, the charge for pay-to-park bays during normal parking hours will be raised specifically within F zone for diesel vehicles, 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.

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 vehicles 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 3 business improvement districts (BIDs).

Kay Buxton from the Marble Arch BID said: “As one of the 3 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.”

Penny Alexander, Chief Executive of the Baker Street Quarter Partnership BID said “Improving air quality is a priority for us and needs to be a unified effort. Businesses in our area recognise that air quality is a significant issue and are working with us to address it. We are really pleased to see Westminster City Council taking forward this initiative to encourage people not to drive 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.

Local resident Stephen Quinn, works and lives in Marylebone with his family including 3 children, said: ‘The poor air quality in our neighbourhood is palpable. We have lived in this area for 20 years, and it is definitely much worse these days. We are extremely concerned about the long-term effect that this pollution is having on us, and, more importantly, our children. The whole of London needs to do all it can to make the city a good place to live and work for all, so one of the many things we need to do is to see a huge reduction in the amount of traffic on our streets. We desperately hope that this pilot will go towards making people realise that things must change. Much bigger efforts are needed urgently, but this is at least a start.’”

Tim Carnegie, Chairman of Marylebone Association, said: "Marylebone residents' are pleased that the Low Emission Neighbourhood is taking action to deter visiting diesel vehicles from driving into our community. Making the polluter pay is just one of the positive steps that is required to bring about necessary behavioural shifts and improvements in our local air quality."

Sheila D'Souza of the St Marylebone Society said: "Our residents' amenity society welcomes this important initiative by Westminster City Council. It makes no sense that people who live, study or work in Marylebone should have to bear the health harms from poor air quality while those responsible for high emissions bear no additional cost.  It is entirely right that high polluting vehicles should be charged more to park.  The area is well served by public transport and has attractive, safe walking routes, so there are alternatives to driving."

Cllr Julia Alexander from Bryanston and Dorset Square Ward said: “Air-pollution is top of our list of concerns and we've made some real changes through our first measures for the Marylebone Low Emission Zone. Now for our next push, we'll have to limit the use of diesel-motors in our area in order to try and safeguard the respiratory-health of our residents, and the healthy development of our school-children.”

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 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.

Last updated: 8 September 2017
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