London is set to play host to the world’s first “ultra low emission zone” from 2020, in an attempt to address high air pollution levels, states mayor Boris Johnson.
This move will mean that vehicles driving into the central congestion charging zone will have to comply with new emissions standards – regardless of the time of day, unlike the £11.50 congestion charge, which only applies on weekdays between 7am and 6pm – or be forced to pay a fee.
This is all part of an attempt to reduce the number of premature deaths in the capital that are blamed on air pollution. New rules will mean that the emissions limit for the most harmful pollutants will be cut by more than half, reports the Press Association.
The new rules will force all new taxis and private hire vehicles – which are less than 18 months old when licensed in London – to be capable of zero emissions by 2018, the mayor said. Helping to make this possible, £25 million in funding has been made available in Government grants to help taxi drivers upgrade to lower emissions vehicles, following £40 million already set aside by the mayor to allow cab drivers to retire the least economical models.
The world's first ultra low emission zone is an essential measure to help improve air quality in our city, protect the health of Londoners, and lengthen our lead as the greatest city on earth
Buses have also been under the spotlight, with new legislations stating that all single decker buses in the capital must be electric-powered by 2020, while the 3,000 double deckers will have to feature hybrid powertrains by the same date.
Charges for vehicles that do not meet these standards will stand at £12.50 per day, with HGVs, coaches and buses facing a £100 daily charge. This strong stance to tackle air pollution levels comes after the European Commission launched legal action against the UK for failing to meet pollution targets, which should have been reached by January 2010, with excessive nitrogen dioxide levels.
Talking about the new plans the London mayor said: “The world's first ultra low emission zone is an essential measure to help improve air quality in our city, protect the health of Londoners, and lengthen our lead as the greatest city on earth,” reports the Press Association.
"With additional funds announced today, more help is on the way for taxi drivers to support their transition to the latest technology in greener cabs.”