Following in the wake of the congestion charge, which aims to reduce traffic in the congested centre, City Hall now plans to introduce a Low Emission Zone covering the entire city.

The zone will be the largest of its kind in the world.

The city wide zone will aim to reduce harmful emissions from the most polluting vehicles by around 16% by 2012 and deliver over £250m of health benefits.

Mayor Livingstone said: “In a modern world city, people should have the opportunity to live and work without fear of being poisoned by the air they breathe.”

Emissions will be judged against European standards that set limits for pollutants in exhaust fumes.

Lorries, buses and coaches must be compliant with the Euro III standards by February 2008, and the tougher Euro IV standards by 2012.

Diesel-engine lorries over 12 tonnes have until February 2008 to comply to the Euro III emissions standard, and lighter lorries, buses, coaches and other heavy polluters have until July 2008.

Failure to meet the target will result in a £200 charge for every day spent driving in the zone, drivers who ignore the emissions target may faces fines up to £1,000.

Most modern freight and public service vehicles already meet the standards and the introduction of the zone will have most impact on ageing or badly maintained fleets.

The Federation of Small Businesses has called on Ken Livingstone to re-think his plans for a Low Emission Zone, arguing the plans will hit hauliers and business vehicles across the UK because over 50% travel through London at least once a year.

Sarah Bazin, chair of the Council of Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, said: “Our analysis of official data on air pollution consistently places the capital right at the top of the UK air quality ‘hotspots’ league and it is clear that radical steps need to be taken to bring this situation under control.”

Cameras operating all year round will identify vehicle registrations and the emission outputs will then be checked.

Non-compliant vehicles can meet the targets by retro-fitting particulate traps or converting their engine to approved alternative fuels such as compressed natural gas.

More information on the zone is available from Transport for London on 0845 607 0009 or the TfL website.

Daniel Turner

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