T-Charges Will Unfairly Punish Drivers States Couriering Leader
Saturday, November 18th, 2017
on behalf of Eagle Couriers
COMMENDABLE though its ambitions may be, Glasgow should not follow London’s T-Charge, writes Jerry Stewart
DIESEL engines are emitting dangerous chemicals and our use of them undoubtedly has to be phased out.
Yet new “T-charges” introduced in London and similar “Low Emission Zones” schemes being mooted for Glasgow are a sticking plaster that unfairly punishes drivers – and especially those with less money.
While our understanding of the harm caused by diesel has changed significantly in the past few years, that doesn’t alter the fact that a huge number of well-intentioned drivers – and businesses – spent large portions of their hard-earned income on diesel motors.
And who could blame them? Often with lower road-tax, company car tax and incentivised by higher fuel efficiency figures – the likes of Volkswagen and Mercedes even purposefully branded top-performing diesel engines as “blue” or “eco” models.
This all happened against a backdrop of under-investment in electrical vehicle (EV) infrastructure leaving us playing catch-up with many of our European neighbours.
Now, despite wholesome intentions, T-charges in London will come down hardest on those “just about managing” – who cannot afford London’s expensive public transport or to trade up for a newer, cleaner vehicle. It is a plainly regressive tax.
Once fully introduced and added to the current congestion charges, drivers of old-vehicles needing to enter central London will be forced to pay a whopping £21.50 per day of driving.
It is the old carrot versus stick debate, and in this case the stick is being used to punish the wrong culprit for the current pollution crisis.
Unusually however, this is both a hyperlocal and a global issue – and more needs to be done at governmental and even international level to put the onus on vehicle manufacturers. Yet there is a huge amount of positive change that can happen close to home.
While some level of congestion charge in Glasgow is inevitable and even understandable, it is not a solution in of itself. It needs complemented by bigger thinking about public transport, cycle schemes, education and heavy investment in EV infrastructure.
Only then will we see plummeting diesel emissions delivered in a way that is fair on the poorest drivers and businesses contributing to the economy and society.
Glasgow has and continues to achieve so much. “People Make Glasgow” is a strapline that has rung very true. Let us make sure policies that affect the city’s many drivers do so in a positive, fair way.
Jerry Stewart is Co-Director with Eagle Couriers, Scotland’s largest independent courier firm and a Fellow with the Institute of Couriers
Further information on Eagle Couriers can be found at www.eaglecouriers.co.uk or on 0845 123 1230
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