London becomes first city to implement 24×7 pollution charge zone

London [UK]: London on Monday (local time) became the first city in the world to implement a special Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) that would charge an entry fee for older vehicles if they do not meet the emission standards.

In an attempt to reduce air pollution and protect public health, the ULEZ will be operational for 24 hours and seven days a week, according to a statement by London mayor Sadiq Khan’s office.

Motorists who drive into the zone in a vehicle that does not meet the new emission standard (petrol-run vehicles that do not meet Euro 4 standards and diesel-run vehicles that do not meet Euro 6) will have to pay a daily charge.

Petrol-run vehicles that do not meet the ULEZ emission standards will have a charge of £12.50 a day for cars, vans and motorbikes and £100 a day for lorries, buses and coaches, the statement said.

Drivers can also check whether their vehicle meets the emission standards of the zone by using an online tool provided by Transport for London, it added.

“Polluting vehicles account for around 50 per cent of London’s harmful Nitrogen Oxide air emissions. Air pollution has an economic cost to the capital of up to £3.7 billion every year, and £20 billion cost to the country every year,” Khan was quoted as saying in the statement.

“The Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) will help address London’s toxic air health crisis that currently leads to thousands of premature deaths annually, and increases the risk of asthma, cancer and dementia,” he added.

The zone will cover the same area as the existing Congestion Charge, collected from drivers in London city centre when it will be expanded to cover more area between major radial roads known as North and South Circular.

Calling it as a “centrepiece” to fight air pollution and terming the move as the “boldest plans of any city on the planet”, Khan said, “This is a landmark day for our city. Our toxic air is an invisible killer responsible for one of the biggest national health emergencies of our generation. I simply refuse to be yet another politician who ignores it.”

“This is also about social justice – people in the most deprived parts of London, who are least likely to own a car, suffer the worst effects of harmful air pollution. I will not stand by and watch children grow up with under-developed lungs in our city. The ULEZ is a vital step towards helping combat London’s illegal air,” he further stated.

As part of the efforts to combat air pollution, London’s famous red bus fleet is also being upgraded. By October 2020, all of 9,200 vehicles will meet or exceed ULEZ standards, as per the statement from Khan’s mayoral office.