Diesel car drivers who park in Islington, north London, will have to pay an extra £2 per hour from January 2018 in a bid to improve air quality.
While many schemes that penalise diesel drivers, such as London's recently introduced Toxicity Charge, only apply to older diesel cars, the parking surcharge to be introduced by Islington Council applies to all diesels, regardless of their age.
Westminster City Council announced a similar parking scheme trial earlier this year, but that only applies to pre-2015 diesels. That levy charges visiting diesel drivers an extra £2.40 per hour to park, a 50% increase on the price for petrol vehicles.
The new scheme in Islington is the first to be borough-wide: it already has a diesel surcharge in place for resident parking, and this will continue alongside the new charge for short-stay parking.
Short-stay parking rates in Islington currently range from £1.20 to £6 an hour. The £2 levy will be enforced by a pay-by-phone app which will identify whether a vehicle is diesel-powered or not by checking its numberplate on the DVLA database.
The AA’s president, Edmund King, has slammed the move, saying that it's “unfair” and that failing to differentiate between older, more polluting diesel vehicles and newer models is “crazy”.
King continued: “Many modern diesels are cleaner than older petrol models. It would be far more effective to target the 10% of gross polluters that cause 50% of the problem. These gross polluters are often older buses, taxis and trucks. This is a diesel demonisation tax that should be scrapped.”
Islington Council said that it hopes the measure "will encourage owners of diesel vehicles to switch to cleaner, more sustainable modes of transport and lead to improved air quality in the borough”.
The council’s councillor for environment and transport, Claudia Webbe, said: “Islington straddles several major thoroughfares, with huge amounts of traffic putting out toxic diesel pollutants stopping in the borough every day.
“The main causes of death in Islington are cardiovascular disease, respiratory diseases and cancer – all of which are exacerbated by diesel emissions. It isn't right that local residents should have to bear the burden of through-traffic pollution on their health."
The council has calculated that around a third of the 1.59 million short-stay visitor parking sessions are made by diesel and heavy oil vehicles.
Meanwhile, the parking trial in Westminster has reportedly resulted in the number of older diesel vehicles using parking bays dropping by more than 12%, with Westminster cabinet member David Harvey saying “the scheme is working”.
Owners of diesel vehicles are increasingly being penalised, through congestion charges such as the T-Charge, parking surcharges and heavier taxation. Changes to car taxation in the upcoming Budget next week are expected to make owning a diesel car even more expensive.