06 Feb 2008 11:02:28
London mayor penalises 'dirty' vehicles
Owners of lorries, coaches and buses that fail to meet EU pollution standards will have to pay £200 from today to enter London.
Mayor Ken Livingstone's new Low Emission Zone scheme will require all owners of commercial vehicles over 12 tonnes to meet strict emissions standards before they enter the capital, or face a hefty charge.
The system will be enforced using cameras that will read number plates in the zone and check them against a database that registers whether vehicles have met the emissions standards, have paid the daily charge, or are exempt.
London currently has the worst air pollution in the UK and its air quality is among the poorest in Europe.
The mayor said he hoped the Low Emission Zone "will improve Londoners' quality of life, and help make London cleaner and greener for residents and visitors alike".
Most vehicles that enter parts of central and west London already pay the Congestion Charge, but environmentally-friendly vehicles are exempt from the tax.
While environmental groups have welcomed the introduction of the Low Emission Zone, the Guardian reported that the Freight Transport Association has warned that small operators will be put out of business because they cannot afford to upgrade or replace vehicles.