The third phase of the Low Emission Zone (LEZ3) comes into effect today, requiring drivers of larger vans, minibuses and specialist vehicles to meet emissions standards for the first time.
Drivers of non-compliant vehicles face a daily charge of £100 or a £500 fine.
In addition, emissions standards for HGVs, buses and coaches have been tightened with vehicles now required to meet the Euro IV emissions standard for particulate matter (PM).
Drivers of these classes of vehicles which do not comply face a £200 daily charge or a £1,000 fine.
Transport for London claim “an estimated 94 per cent of the vehicles that will be affected for the first time already meet the new standards”
Mayor Johnson said he was “ushering in even higher environmental standards to curb pollution and ensure fresher, healthier air for all.
“Delivering cleaner air is key to my goal of creating a better quality of life for Londoners.”
A TfL statement issued in the Mayor’s name confirms implementing the next phase of the LEZ “is part of a comprehensive set of long-term sustainable measures being introduced by the Mayor to tackle the biggest sources of pollution.”
The statement contradicts claims made by the Mayor’s campaign team last April that the third phase was being “imposed” on London by the European Commission and that drivers faced “EU fees” for not complying.
TfL subsequently confirmed that all monies raised from fines and charges went to paying the Zone’s running costs and no money was transferred outside of TfL.
Larger vans and minibuses were originally scheduled to become subject to the LEZ in October 2010, however Mayor Johnson postponed the measures.
That decision was criticised by environmental campaigners who accused the Mayor of failing to take the issue of air quality seriously.
Darren Johnson, a Green Party member of the London Assembly, said delaying LEZ3 “has contributed to London’s appalling air pollution during the last year.”
Johnson said the Mayor “has even made things worse” by abolishing the Western Extension of the Congestion Charge and scrapping six monthly checks on Taxis.
Liberal Democrats at City Hall have called for the introduction of a “Berlin style” Clean Air Zone which excluded specified vehicles from Inner and Central London.
Mike Tuffrey, the party’s environment spokesperson, says: “If we are to ever end the scandal of ill health and even premature deaths facing thousands of Londoners we need to reduce air pollution being created in the first place.
“A Berlin style Clean Air Zone in central London and a big switch to electric buses, taxis and vans should be key priorities for the Mayor in 2012.”
Simon Birkett, Founder and Director of Clean Air in London, said such a zone “would be ‘quick and inexpensive to implement’ according to Transport for London and would avoid the need to introduce the tightest standards throughout London.”
Other measures being implemented from this month include an age limit on taxis and a campaign to curb engine idling.