Driving into central London will cost you more than twice what it does now. A plan is in place to charge motorists an additional £12.50 a day pollution charge in addition to the daily congestion charge.
London Mayor Boris Johnson will introduce the “world’s first ultra low emission zone (ULEZ) to improve London’s air quality and reduce NO2” in an effort to halve toxic fumes, according to the Standard newspaper.
The new charge will come into play on the 7th of September, 2020. It will cover the same area as the congestion charge and will be in force 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The move means motorists will fork out a minimum of £23 to drive in central London.
Cars, coaches, heavy goods vehicles, minibuses, motorcycles and vans will all have to pay the charge or face a fine, which in the case of the biggest vehicles will reportedly rise to £100.
Johnson said: “Safeguarding Londoners’ health and well-being is a top priority for my administration. I understand that people need adequate time to switch to greener vehicles and help is at hand for those who will be hardest hit, but let’s be clear, we need to make these important changes ASAP to continue to improve Londoners’ quality of life and give everyone who lives in or visits the city the cleanest possible air to breathe.”
Critics argue the mayor is taking a weak line in dealing with London’s air pollution. Baroness Jenny Jones of the London Assembly Green party said: “It is one of the biggest scandals of our age that 4,300 people a year in London are dying prematurely as a result of poor air quality.
“As serious air pollution is not confined to the boundaries of the congestion charge area, nor should the Ultra Low Emission Zone. Boroughs outside the zone should be given an opportunity to opt-in at the earliest possible opportunity.”
Cars and small vans will have to pay pay the charge unless they meet Euro 4-level Euro 6-level regulations if a petrol or diesel, respectively. The main focus is on reducing NO2 and particulate matter (PM10) levels.
By 2018 all taxis and private hire vehicles will need to be capable of zero emissions if they want to secure a licence to operate in London.
Currently electric and hybrid cars that emit less than 75g/km of CO2 are exempt from the London congestion charge. The threshold was brought down from 99g/km mid-2013.
The ULEZ consultation runs until the 9th of January, 2015.