Ken Livingstone has given the go-ahead for a London-wide Low Emission Zone designed to cut harmful emissions from the most polluting lorries, coaches and buses.
According to Transport for London the scheme, which is the first in the UK, is the largest in the world and will come into effect in February 2008 when it will apply to lorries over 12 tonnes From July 2008 the Low Emission Zone will also apply to lighter lorries, buses and coaches, and the dirtiest of other heavy vehicles.
Companies offering lorries, buses and coaches which do not meet the Low Emission Zone standards (unless exempt or entitled to a 100% discount) will need to pay a charge of £200 for each charging day they are driven in the zone.
Like the current Congestion Charge Zone the scheme will use cameras to identify registration numbers of vehicles driving within Greater London and will operate seven days a week, 365 days a year.
Announcing his decision Mayor Livingstone said the zone would “improve Londoners’ quality of life, and help make London cleaner and greener for residents and visitors alike.”
It’s estimated that the Low Emission Zone will deliver reductions of around 16 per cent by 2012 in areas of London where the air quality exceeds European Union pollution objectives.
According to Michèle Dix, Director of the zone at Transport for London research suggests “70 per cent of public and stakeholder respondents, and 69 per cent of business respondents, support the scheme.”
The scheme has been branded as “unnecessary” by the One London Party.
Party leader Damian Hockney said his party was “very disappointed that the Mayor hasn’t given proper credit to the enormous steps taken by Britain’s vehicle manufactureres and the road haulage industry to meet emissions targets.”
Mr Hockney claimed the scheme would not cover vehicles operated by overseas companies which would “effectively be exempt”.