Islington Council in north London is thought to have become the first local authority to put a surcharge on the ownership of diesel-powered vehicles. On 15 January, the 48 members of the council (47 Labour and 1 Green) voted to increase the cost of a parking permit by £96 per year for all diesel vehicles registered with the borough.
If the vote is carried through the three-day ‘cooling off’ period, the charges will begin in April.
While London black cabs will be exempt in the Islington scheme, commercial vehicles with more than a 3.5-tonne overall weight will only be considered for exemptions on a ‘case-by-case’ basis.
Islington isn’t the first council to introduce surcharges for diesel vehicle parking permits. Kensington and Chelsea introduced an £18 surcharge, but it exempted diesel cars with newest Euro 5-rated engines.
However, the ‘blanket’ nature of the surcharge in Islington has sounded alarm bells within the car industry, sources have told Autocar.
It is feared that moves against all diesel vehicles – rather than just the oldest and most polluting examples – will be the beginning of a demonization of diesel as a fuel and seriously hamper the car industry’s attempts to meet the 2020 EU fleet laws for CO2 emissions.
Just ahead of the council vote, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) wrote to the Islington Council executive to argue against the surcharge plans.
“We are concerned that the proposals to levy a £96 surcharge on parking permits for all diesel vehicles are disproportionate and do not recognise the huge technological advances made in recent years to make diesel vehicles cleaner,” the SMMT said.