In case you were not aware of it, TFL is suggesting a change of the Congestion zone exemptions. This affects at least half of all Kings Cross residents (the ones in the Camden section) with exception of the roads North of Acton Street.
Follow this link to go directly to the consultation which closes on the 8th of February 2013.
ULTRA LOW EMISSION DISCOUNT
TFL proposes basically three things, a small increase in the fee if a vehicle has failed to pay the congestion charge, an end to purchasing licences in shops and finally new rules to those vehicles that are exempt.
The point Kings Cross residents will be be most concerned with is the later. TFL suggests that exceptions should now only be given to those vehicles that have a Euro 5 norm or are electrical. Euro 5 means above all that the emissions contain reduced cancer causing small particles especially from Diesel vehicles.
LESS POLLUTING NEW CARS HAVE MEANT MORE CARS
TFL argues that since C02 levels have decreased in most new cars, current exemption levels have resulted in a net increase of vehicles entering the congestion zone over the years and hence increased congestion.
The general thinking here aims to combine the congestion element of their brief with environmental concerns.
But it fails to solve the issue of congested areas just outside the current C-zone, with some amongst the highest polluted roads in London and Europe (Euston Road, Marylebone Road, Kings Cross Gyratory)
It also does nothing outside the operational hours of the congestion zone. Whilst in congestion terms it is desirable, that traffic evens out between day and night, it also means that vehicles that operate only at night can be less concerned with the cleanliness of their engines as long as they meet the much lower hurdles of the London Low Emission Zone guidelines .
RESIDENTS’ HEALTH A FACTOR
It could instead be time for a redefinition of the congestion zone as a whole as a combined Central London Congestion and Ultra Low Emission zone. This would show a shift in thinking from a car driver perspective only (being able to get through) to a residential perspective as well (health impact and safety). This would officially remove the problem for TFL to always have to argue from a congestion point of view and address congestion alongside pollution head on, meaning it could declare, just to make an example, that by 2016, three years from now, all vehicles entering the zone must fulfil the Euro 5 / Euro6 norm and the equivalent highest HGV norm. The data from Maryelbone Road and other pollution measurements also beg for a possible integration of these roads into the C-sphere.
How about all of London?
Even more progressive but future bearing and London transforming, would be a strengthening of the parameters of the London Low Emission Zone to the new Euro 5 Levels within 3-5 years. The congestion zone could still be standing to deal with congestion in London’s heart land. That too lies in the powers of TFL.
Perhaps the good news is that TFL is certainly hearing demands on sharper emission controls and is beginning to create policies that show this. Is it enough? Give your views: