London tightens emissions zone rules

4th January 2012

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Drivers of older vans, minibuses and 4x4s will now be charged £100 a day to drive into greater London as the mayor's office rolls out tougher emissions requirements, following a 15 month delay.

The London low emissions zone rules were extended on 3 January to cover large diesel vehicles more than 10-years-old, including vans weighing between 1.2–3.5 tonnes, motorised caravans and minibuses carrying more than eight passengers.

The new rules mean that drivers must either adapt their vehicles to meet European emissions standard Euro 3, by fitting approved filters or converting them to run on gas, or pay a daily charge of £100 to enter the zone.

The changes also tighten emissions requirements for lorries, buses and coaches already covered by the scheme. Now, all larger vehicles manufactured before 1 October 2006, must meet Euro 4 emissions standards or pay daily charge of £200.

Introduced in 2008, the low emission zone was created to cut levels of airborne pollution of PM10 and nitrogen oxides in greater London, which has consistently failed to meet EU air quality standards.

The scheme had been due to be extended to smaller diesel vehicles in October 2010, but the changes were postponed by mayor Boris Johnson on the grounds they would harm small businesses during tough economic conditions.

Simon Birkett, founder and director of the Clean Air in London campaign, said the introduction of phase III was long overdue.

“Even after the latest changes, London’s low emission zone is still two steps and two years behind the Berlin low emission zone that has banned pre-Euro 4 diesel vehicles of all sorts from the most polluted parts of the city,” he said.

“London should be leading the world in tackling air pollution as it did after the Great Smog of 1952 not failing to warn or misleading Londoners about this invisible public health crisis.”
Meanwhile Nick Fairholme, director of congestion charging and traffic enforcement at Transport for London, argued the zone was working.

“The existing low emission zone is delivering significant improvements in air quality to the benefit of Londoners’ health,” he said. “The new standards introduced in January are vital to our continued efforts to tackle pollution.”
The Transport for London website lists all of the vehicles now covered by the scheme, the new daily charges and advice on how to upgrade vehicles to meet new standards.


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