London’s new pollution fix: Pay more to drive into centre
Driving into an ‘ultra low emission zone’ in central London will cost more from Monday after transport officials introduced a new, round-the-clock charge to deal with growing pollution affecting millions of people in the capital.
The new charge means driving a car into the zone will cost £24 per day, which comprises the ULEZ charge of 12.50 pounds and a congestion charge of £11.50.
The ULEZ charge will apply to pre-2015 diesel and pre-2006 petrol cars that fall foul of Euro 6 and Euro 4 standards, respectively. The ULEZ charge for heavier vehicles, including lorries and buses, is 100 pounds per day.
The charge is the latest measure to improve traffic conditions in London, where the congestion charge has been in force since 2003. The ULEZ charge is applicable in the same zone as that marked by the letter ‘C’ to signify the congestion zone in central London.
Officials say that an estimated 600,000 people in London suffer from asthma, including 240,000 children; two-thirds with asthma say air pollution leaves them fighting for breath. Many who do not go to hospital are also affected by high levels of air pollution.
Grappling with efforts to tackle pollution, Sadiq Khan, London mayor, says, “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.”
“The world’s first 24-hour seven-day-a-week Ultra Low Emission Zone in the central London Congestion Charge zone will help clean our air and reduce harmful road transport emissions in central London by an estimated 45 per cent.”
Implementation is monitored through automatic number-plate recognition and a web of CCTVs across central London. Drivers pay online before entering the zone; failure to pay invites fine of £160 for cars and £1000 for heavier vehicles.
From October 25, 2021 the ULEZ boundary is to be extended to create a larger zone.