London rolls out strict vehicle emission charges

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New signs for the ultra-low emission zone (Ulez) are pictured in central London on Monday. — AFP

LONDON — London motorists driving older, more polluting vehicles must pay a new charge from Monday as part of one of the world’s toughest vehicle emissions programs.

The ultra-low emission zone (Ulez) charges certain polluting vehicles a £12.50 ($16, 14.5 euros) fee to enter the center of the British capital under mayor Sadiq Khan’s plans to reduce air pollution.

Anyone driving a diesel car more than around four years old and a petrol car more than around 13 years old will pay the charge, although the vehicle’s declared emissions will be the official measure.

Black cabs are exempt from the charge.

Larger vehicles, such as lorries and coaches, that exceed the limits face a daily charge of £100.

Khan said the Ulez will “help clean our air and reduce harmful road transport emissions”, which “shorten life expectancy and damage lung development.”

A King’s College London and Imperial College London study commissioned by the mayor found that poor air quality leads to about 1,000 London hospital admissions every year.

“As someone who developed adult-onset asthma over the last few years, I know from personal experience that London’s toxic air is damaging people’s health,” Khan said.

“This study is a stark reminder that air pollution disproportionately affects the most vulnerable Londoners and I’m doing everything in my power to protect children, the elderly and those with respiratory conditions from our filthy air.”

The Ulez area will be extended to the whole of inner London from October 2021.

The charges apply at all times and are additional to the congestion charge fee of £11.50, applicable between 7:00 am and 6:00 pm on weekdays.

London director of the CBI business lobby group, Eddie Curzon, warned that “smaller firms can struggle to afford the switch to low-emission vehicles”, with around 100,000 vehicles expected to be affected each day.

“It is crucial that City Hall works with firms to help them take advantage of new technologies and support them, where required, to accelerate the take-up of low emission vehicles.” — AFP


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