Speculation is mounting that London Mayor Boris Johnson is set to announce that the third phase of the Low Emission Zone, implementation of which he scrapped earlier this year, will come into force from 2012.
A number of sources have indicated Johnson could make the announcement as early as this week when he addresses the Conservative Party conference.
Under the scheme, which was implemented by former Mayor Ken Livingstone in 2008, vehicles entering Greater London which do not comply with current emissions standards face a fine of £200.
In February Johnson announced the “suspension” of the third phase which would have extended the scheme to include vans and minibuses from October 2010. At the time the Mayor said his decision was taken to protect the capital’s small businesses, claiming the scheme’s extension “would have come as punch in the ribs to those who need our help at this time, would have destroyed profit margins, and endangered our businesses.”
The decision led to accusations from London Assembly Member Darren Johnson that the Mayor had undermined Government efforts to prove to the European Commission that it could meet legally binding targets to reduce air pollution in the capital.
Speaking on Sunday night, Mike Tuffrey, who leads Liberal Democrat Assembly Group, said the Mayor “should not be claiming credit for something that should never have been cancelled in the first place.”
Tuffrey added: “With 3,000 Londoners dying prematurely every year due to poor air quality, the Mayor needs to do much more to improve health in the run up to the Olympics.”