Boris Johnson has unveiled “significant discounts” off the cost of new vans and minibuses ahead of the delayed expansion of the Low Emission Zone (LEZ) which comes into effect next January.
Under the scheme, which was introduced by former Mayor Ken Livingstone in 2008, vehicles entering Greater London which do not comply with emissions standards face a potential fine for every trip.
The LEZ’s third phase, which requires vans and minibuses to be compliant, was due to come into force last year but was delayed by the Mayor in February 2009.
At the time City Hall said going ahead “would clobber London’s small businesses, the backbone of the capital’s economy, with a bill that in the current economic climate could put many of them out of existence.”
In October 2009 Johnson announced the measures would come into effect from January 2012, just months before he asks Londoners to support his re-election bid.
Owners of larger vans and minibuses which do not meet emissions standards and who drive within Greater London after January 3rd will have to pay a £100 daily charge or risk a £500 penalty.
The Mayor’s original decision to delay implementation led to claims that he was “undermining” Government efforts to avoid a £300m fine for breaking European air quality standards, a claim City Hall has consistently denied.
Today Mr Johnson announced that manufacturers including Citroën, Ford and Volkswagen have agreed to provide “more affordable ways to buy new, cleaner vehicles” including discounts which “in some cases amount to thousands of pounds off a new vehicle.”
The Mayor claimed the “vast majority” of owners affected by changes had already updated their vehicle to a compliant model but said those who had not done so could now benefit from “a hefty package of discounts with major van manufacturers.”
Mike Tuffrey, Liberal Democrat environment spokesperson on the London Assembly, said the discounts would “help ensure many small businesses and voluntary organisations rise to the challenge of meeting the new air quality standards.”
Tuffrey repeated calls for the Mayor to “follow the successful example of Berlin and introduce a Clean Air Zone in central London, where air pollution is worst and has the greatest impact on people’s health.”
Green party Assembly Member Darren Johnson dismissed the deal as being “two years too late”, adding: “by cancelling action against polluting vans in 2010, the Mayor of London stopped the one big measure which might have delivered cleaner air across London by now.”
Full details of the deals announced today can be found at www.tfl.gov.uk/lezlondon