Merton Council has issued nearly 1,000 parking permits for diesel vehicles since introducing a new levy two months ago.

The charge was introduced in March to reduce air pollution and encourage people to switch to less polluting vehicles, as part of a pledge by the Mayor of London.

To date, 971 resident, business and trade permits have been issued. This amounts to about £88,000.

The council estimated it would raise more than £250,000 in the first year, but it has already raised nearly a third of this in two months. It says it will spend the money on sustainable transport initiatives and infrastructure, such as cycle lanes, to tackle pollution.

Merton agreed to phase in the annual charge over three years charging £90 (2017/18), £115 (2018/19) and £150 (2019/20) giving people time to change their vehicles.

Owners of electric cars pay just £25 a year. The council is installing a network of vehicle charging points to encourage further use.

The Royal College of Physicians says air pollution contributes up to 40,000 deaths a year in the UK and reduces the lives of all Londoners by an average of eight months.

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