More power to ban polluting cars should be given to councils across the UK to protect children from dangerous air pollution, a government think tank has suggested.
The calls come after Mayor of London Sadiq Khan revealed plans for a new “Toxicity Charge” in the capital, which would see the most polluting cars charged £10 on top of the existing £11.50 Congestion Charge.
The “Toxicity Charge” applies to vehicles that do not meet Euro 4 emissions standards, with most vehicles registered before 2006 incurring the additional £10 penalty on top of the congestion charge. It is expected that 10,000 vehicles every day could be liable for the new charge.
Khan pointed towards the effect air pollution has on children, saying that 438 schools in London are in areas with illegal levels of pollution.
London’s toxic air is an outrage and I promised to make cleaning it up one of my top priorities. I’m delivering on that pledge. pic.twitter.com/9LnVkXnMvY
— Mayor of London (@MayorofLondon) March 9, 2017
But independent think tank Bright Blue – which is campaigning for low-emission zones in all English cities – says any such scheme should not be confined just to London.
Sam Hall, senior researcher at the organisation, said: “The health of children in schools is being put at risk as a result of illegal levels of air pollution in cities. The scientific evidence is clear that children are among those most likely to be harmed by toxic fumes, with studies showing possible impairment of their physical development.
“Local authorities must have the tools they need to take action on persistent, poor air quality in their area. That’s why central government should devolve more powers and funding to English cities so that they can charge and, where necessary, ban old, polluting cars in order to protect children’s health.”
The Department for Transport said: “We are firmly committed to improving the UK’s air quality and cutting harmful emissions.
“We will update our air quality plans in the spring to further improve the nation’s air quality.”
Speaking about the launch of the new emissions surcharge in London, Khan said: “It’s staggering that we live in a city where the air is so toxic that many of our children are growing up with lung problems. If we don’t make drastic changes now we won’t be protecting the health of our families in the future.”