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'A matter of life and death': Council proposes £1 per hour diesel surcharge increase

PUBLISHED: 17:19 15 January 2019 | UPDATED: 07:55 16 January 2019

Cllr Claudia Webbe hands an anti-idling leaflet to lorry driver Adrian Fafara in Upper Street. (NOTE: Mr Fafara was not idling his lorry engine, just receiving information)

Cllr Claudia Webbe hands an anti-idling leaflet to lorry driver Adrian Fafara in Upper Street. (NOTE: Mr Fafara was not idling his lorry engine, just receiving information)

Archant

Drivers of diesel cars could see the price of parking in Islington rise by £1 an hour if town hall chiefs approve the plan on Thursday.

Drivers of diesel cars could see the price of parking in Islington rise by £1 an hour if town hall chiefs approve the plan on Thursday.

The executive will debate proposals, including an increase to Islington’s diesel surcharge, when it convenes in two days’ time.

Islington last year became the first council to introduce a £2-an-hour fee for short stay parking, in a bid to combat nitrogen oxide emissions.

In an equality impact statement, the council notes: “All residents and visitors will benefit from better air quality and better health outcomes, especially older and young people.”

But it concedes “the additional cost may affect some residents on low incomes”.

The council argues Islington’s pollution levels, which are “some of the highest in London due to major transport routes”, justify the proposal.

It also notes: “The biggest health inequalities issue in Islington is the large numbers of deaths from long-term conditions at relatively young ages. [...]

“Exposure to high levels of air pollution, particularly diesel emissions, is known to exacerbate these existing health conditions.

“This is particularly concerning given the number of young families and schools within the borough.”

Diesel can emit up to four times more nitrogen oxides and 20 times more particulate matter than petrol.

The council recognises this policy has “a potential socio-economic negative impact” for people who own diesel vehicles.

But it argues policies existing policies, like issuing people with parking permits “within their controlled parking zone” and the “resident roamer facility” create savings elsewhere.

The latter enables permit holders to park in any residential parking spot between 11am and 3pm.

Islington’s environment chief Cllr Claudia Webbe said: “Poor air quality is a major public health issue in Islington, which has some of the highest pollution levels in London.

“The main causes of death in our borough are cardiovascular disease, cancer and respiratory diseases. Exposure to high levels of air pollution, especially diesel emissions, is known to make these existing health conditions worse – for some people this is a matter of life and death.

“We have been a leading campaigner on harm caused by diesel fumes, and have called for a London-wide diesel ban by 2025. Our actions applies to all diesels, as we do not believe there is any clean diesel yet produced.

“As a responsible local authority we believe it’s necessary for us to be much bolder in our response.

“Thus we’re proposing to build on our existing work by increasing the diesel surcharge on ‘paid-for parking’, to further deter the use of diesel vehicles in Islington, and therefore reduce harmful emissions.”

The Resident Roamer facility enabled permit holders to park in any residential parking spot between 11am and 3pm.

The Green Party transport spokesperson, Cllr Caroline Russell, who is also Islington’s sole opposition, said she “fully supports the policy” and has proposed it in previous budget amendments.

She added: “If the council was really serious about cutting road danger and pollution they’d ditch the Resident Roamer scheme, which encourages car use for short local journeys.”

People with disabled parking permits, or blue badges, would be exempt from any surcharge increase.

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