Emissions-based charges proposed for City of London to improve air quality

Guildhall in the City of London
Credit Google

The City of London is proposing moving to emissions-based charges for its owned car parks in a bid to reduce traffic and improve air quality. If approved, the scheme will largely mirror that used for on-street parking, and is expected to generate up to £650,000 in additional income annually.

The Corporation currently operates a flat fee-paying structure across the five car parks it runs (Baynard House, London Wall, Minories, Tower Hill and Smithfield), costing drivers £4.50 an hour, or between £1.50 and £4.20 at Smithfield. Under the proposals, this would increase for all vehicles other than electric, hydrogen or hybrid, with further rises planned for 2025 and 2026.

Several other London local authorities already tier parking charges based on emissions, such as Islington, with Westminster also due to introduce such a scheme. The City of London’s on-street charges were amended to be based on vehicle type in 2018, and was one of the first of its kind in the capital.

Under the new proposals focussing on the Corporation-owned car parks, the charges will differ based on the following categories: electric or hydrogen or hybrid; petrol vehicles registered from 2005; diesel vehicles registered from 2015; and any other vehicle. Drivers of electric, hydrogen or hybrid vehicles will not see parking charges rise above £4.50 an hour in the period to 2026, while those with ‘any other vehicle’ will pay increased costs of £7 in 2024, £7.30 in 2025 and £8.10 in 2026. The proposals over the three years however ensure off-street charges remain lower than on-street.

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Overnight concessionary parking costs at Smithfield, which have long been in-place for market traders and customers, are also being looked at, though will continue to be cheaper than other local car parks. Proposed season ticket costs meanwhile would see drivers of cleaner vehicles still paying £2,500 every quarter, while those with the most polluting cars may be paying up to £4,200 by 2026.

Officers at the Corporation have recommended the proposals be approved by members at next Tuesday’s (March 5) Planning and Transportation Committee meeting. In the report outlining the plans, it is noted the City’s public car parks must generate ‘sufficient’ income to meet their costs, with on-street parking charges currently having to cover a net-loss from the service. The additional income is expected to be £200,000 to £500,000 a year for the Environment department, which manages Baynard House, London Wall, Minories and Tower Hill, and £85,000 to £150,000 for Markets, which is responsible for Smithfield

A City of London Corporation Spokesperson, said: “The City Corporation’s Transportation Strategy seeks to improve conditions for pedestrians and cyclists, who make up a significant majority of journeys through the Square Mile. It will do this by reducing overall levels of traffic, improving air quality, and where it can, encourage drivers to switch to less polluting vehicles.

“The introduction of emissions-based car park tariffs, where ‘the polluter pays,’ aligns us to the approach that we already take with our on-street parking charges.”

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