Pollution in Islington is at unacceptable levels. The whole of Islington has been declared an Air Quality Management Area due to concentrations of harmful nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter (PM10) exceeding the UK air quality standards.
In 2015, independent consultants Cambridge Environmental Research Consultants (CERC) carried out a study on the scale and extent of air pollution in Islington and the main sources for it and found cars and buses on main roads to be the biggest contributors to poor air quality. Diesel vehicles can emit up to four times more nitrogen oxides and 20 times more particulate matter than petrol vehicles and these pollutants have been linked to heart and lung diseases, which are major causes of long term illness and even death in Islington.
There is growing evidence of the harmful effects diesel fumes can have on health and life expectancy. Poor air quality is believed to result in around 9,000 premature deaths in London each year. Poor air quality has also been linked to cancer, heart and lung damage, as well as a range of other health issues, including asthma. In view of this, diesel has been classified as carcinogenic (known to cause cancer) by the World Health Organisation.
For this reason, the council charges extra for diesel vehicles to park in the borough to address the impact of diesel fuel on poor air quality and health and to encourage a move away from polluting vehicles. This surcharge applies to both resident permit holders and anyone using short stay parking.
Islington was one of the first boroughs to introduce the diesel surcharge on resident permits in 2015, followed by a £2 per hour surcharge for short stay parking in 2018. The council has agreed that from March 2019 the cost of short stay parking for diesel vehicles will increase by a further £1 per hour and that from April 2019 the surcharge on the resident permit will increase from £99.65 to £120. Islington has set its pricing structure charge at a level significant enough to encourage a move away from diesel vehicles.
Euro 6 vehicles
The council made the decision not to introduce concessions for Euro 6 vehicles as recent research suggests that they still have high levels of harmful emissions. Research by the International Council on Clean Transportation found that in reality even the newest, cleanest Euro 6 diesel vehicles emit high levels of harmful nitrogen oxide and can be up to seven times higher than this standard permits.
For more evidence please see the frequently asked questions below.
Disabled residents who own a Blue Badge are still entitled to park for free. Visit our dedicated page for parking for disabled residents.
Residents who depend on their vehicle for employment purposes are exempt from the diesel surcharge on resident permits. This includes:
- taxis (black cabs)
- DVLA categorised N1 vehicles, which are designed and constructed for the carriage of goods and do not exceed 3.5 tonnes
- In some cases, category M vehicles (used for the carriage of passengers
Details of exemptions and, if necessary, how to apply will be incorporated with permit renewal letters.
Help improve air quality in Islington - choose greener and healthier travel
Islington has excellent transport links and in line with our new Transport Strategy (currently in development), the council is doing lots to improve the availability of healthy, efficient and sustainable transport options. You can do your bit to help improve air quality in Islington and at the same time cut down your exposure to pollution by walking, cycling, or using public transport. You put yourself at more risk of pollution if you are driving a vehicle.
If you do decide to use a car, choose a zero emission vehicle as parking an electric vehicle in Islington is free. We are also installing more electric charging points, as well as upgrading the technology. Find out more about electric vehicle charging and your nearest point. If you’d like to work out the price of your permit and work out which vehicles are cheaper, use our permit checker.
Frequently asked questions
Where can I read more about the evidence of the impact of diesel fuel on health and air quality?
There is extensive and growing research to support the harm that diesel fuel has on health and poor air quality, this is not limited to but includes:
- A study by the University of Oxford has shown that the health damage from cars and vans costs £6 billion annually to the NHS and society, with the bill arising from London vehicles totalling £650 million a year
- Research by Kings College and the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) concluded that most air pollution in London is caused by road transport, of which diesel vehicles are the most polluting
- Real World Exhaust Emissions from Diesel Cars – by The International Council on Clean Transportation
- Air Quality in Islington – A Guide for Public Health Professionals – GLA
- Carcinogenicity of diesel-engine and gasoline-engine exhausts and some nitroarenes - The Lancet
- The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) – which led to the World Health Organisation classifying diesel engine emissions as “carcinogenic to humans”.
Mortality effects of long term exposure to Particulate Air Pollution in the UK – Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants (COMEAP)
I have a hybrid diesel vehicle, am I still required to pay the surcharge?
Yes, if it is a diesel vehicle it will still emit harmful nitrogen oxide and particulate matter so the surcharge will apply. Petrol hybrids have lower levels of these harmful emissions so are a better option.
Does the council profit from the surcharge?
Money from the surcharge will be ploughed back into improving highways and other transport-related activities. The council doesn’t profit from parking.
Do the council use diesel vehicles?
Yes, however we are going as fast as possible to reduce the number of diesel vehicles in the council’s fleet to make sure they are as environmentally friendly as the technology allows. In 2018 we started a fleet replacement programme to accelerate the move away from diesel, which includes looking at replacing larger vehicles, such as buses and refuse vehicles, as electrical and other technologies are refined for these vehicle types. By the end of 2019 we will have reduced the number of diesel vehicles in our fleet by over a quarter snce 2015.
Why are you increasing the surcharge? Did the previous increases not have enough impact?
Since the introduction of the permit surcharge in 2015 and short stay parking surcharge in 2017 we have only seen a 3% decrease in both the number of diesel permits being bought and diesel vehicles parking in short stay bays. The number of diesel vehicles is still far too high, and now account for 57% of short stay parking. Therefore, further action needs to be taken to discourage diesel use and reduce the associated harmful emissions quicker.