Diesel vehicles that do not meet Euro 6 standards and most petrol vehicles that do not meet the Euro 4 standard could face penalties. A charge of £12.50 will be handed to cars, vans and motorbikes, with larger vehicles forced to pay £100 to drive through the area.

The charge, which has been brought forward a year early, is expected the affect up to 60,000 vehicles every day and could reduce road transport emissions by an extra 20% in 2019, according to City Hall.

Londoners and businesses will need support from the Government to meet the standards, Khan said.

The Mayor said: “London’s lethal air is one of the biggest health challenges of this generation. We can’t continue breathing in air so toxic it harms children’s lung development and causes chronic illness and premature death. I am determined to take the bold action needed to address this scourge once and for all.

He added: “I’ve taken the bold action we need to protect our children, but we now urgently need the Government to step up and provide the support to Londoners and businesses required to help them meet these crucial standards.”

Cleaner capital

The ULEZ will operate alongside the congestion charge and will replace the T-Charge, introduced earlier this month, which requires older polluting cars to pay £10 to drive through central London. Unlike the T-Charge and congestion charge which are only in place on week days, ULEZ will run 24/7, every day of the year.

It is hoped that 100,000 people living across London will no longer live in areas exceeding NO2 limits. Transport for London will use the funding to invest in greener transport and cleaning up the capital’s toxic air levels, City Hall said.

The news has been welcomed by members of the green community, with some urging the Government to step up its own efforts by introducing a diesel scrappage scheme.

British Lung Foundation chief executive Dr Penny Woods said: “Early implementation of the ULEZ could dramatically improve people’s quality of life and reduce the burden on health services. However, further and faster action from the government is still needed. Traffic is the major cause of filthy air.

“A targeted scrappage scheme is needed to help people move to cleaner vehicles. This must prioritise people on low incomes and those with health conditions who find it hardest to get around.”

Breaching limits

London is one of the vast majority of highly-populated British urban areas that are in breach of World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended guidelines for air quality. Last week’s research from the Royal College of Physicians showed that 44 UK towns and cities fail the WHO’s test for particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns (PM2.5), which are linked to heart disease and premature death.

The Government’s Air Quality Plan, set to come into force next year, proposes a £3bn programme to clean up dirty air around UK roads. As part of the strategy, the Government has committed to the phase-out of new car sales for petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040.

George Ogleby

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