By Michael Daventry and Figen Güneş
From 3 January, drivers of medium-sized vehicles registered as new before 2002 – including minibuses, goods vans and some 4×4 cars – will be required to pay the daily fee to drive in the Greater London area, unless they install a filter device on their vehicle’s exhaust pipe.
The rules are also being tightened for large articulated lorries, smaller lorries and coaches, which were already bound by zone. From 3 January, all vehicles in this category registered as new before 2006 without an exhaust filter will have to pay a £200 daily charge. The charge had previously applied only to vehicles of this type registered as new before 2002.
The Low Emission Zone covers almost all of Greater London, with the notable exception of the M25, and unlike the Central London Congestion Charge will be in operation 24 hours a day. Cars and motorcycles remain entirely exempt.
Transport for London (TfL) manages the zone through a network of roadside cameras which automatically snap passing number plates and checks to see whether the associated vehicle is required to pay a charge. A £500 fine applies to all vehicles that flout the charge.
The transport body has recommended road users attach a filter or upgrade their vehicles to a newer model rather than repeatedly paying the daily charge. But the pricecan be daunting: TfL estimates suggest attaching a filter to a regular minibus can cost between £1800 and £3500, while an articulated lorry conversion could set its owner back as much as £7000 to have the procedure completed and certified.
NEGATIVE EFFECT ON TRADE
Ahmet Durmuş, a director at the Eden Valley poultry wholesaler, told the London Turkish Gazette that his firm had renewed its entire fleet of 20 articulated lorries ahead of the change at a cost of nearly £1 million.
He said the price of chicken products had nearly doubled in the last two years and this, coupled with the new emissions zone rules, had a detrimental effect on his company’s profit margins. But Mr Durmuş also said London’s scheme covered a geographically small area, and that it should be extended to other European capitals, such as Paris and Rome, as the benefits for reducing air pollution were clear.
Research commissioned by the Mayor of London Boris Johnson’s office has suggested that poor air quality contributes to an equivalent of around 4,300 premature deaths in London annually, with many people, especially children and older people, having their quality of life adversely impacted by it.
“Delivering cleaner air is key to my goal of creating a better quality of life for Londoners,” Mr Johnson said. “2012 is also an historic year during which the eyes of the world will turn to London and I want people to experience a cleaner, greener city before, during and after the Games.”