Sadiq Khan has made the the announced the “world’s first” low emission zone as part of sweeping new measures aimed at cutting pollution levels in the “appalling air” in the UK capital.
Motorists with the most polluting cars could be charged up to £24 ($29.80) a day to travel in the ultra-low emissions zone (ULEZ), which will share the same borders as the congestion charge area.
The new measures indicate pre-2016 diesel and pre-2006 petrol cars will have to pay a fee of no less than £3-4 and as much as £12.50 ($15.50).
That is on top of the current £11.50 ($14) congestion charge for traveling in the heart of London.
While the congestion charge applies every Monday to Friday from 7am to 6pm, the fee to travel within the ULEZ will be applicable 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The new plans which are designed to cut carbon emissions by 50 percent, come in response to reports of an increase in the number of diesel cars in circulation, despite their threat to public health.
London is among the areas in the UK where air quality breaks legal standards.
The Met has 736 vehicles that will not meet the new rules by 2019. The fire brigade has 52 and London Ambulance Service said it had 828 diesel vehicles that were not compliant but hoped to reduce this to 86 by 2020.
“The air in London is lethal and I will not stand by and do nothing,” said Khan, according to the Evening Standard.
“Today I’m announcing bold proposals which are critically needed to safeguard Londoners from our air quality health crisis.
“Now I urge the government to step up and match my ambition to transform the appalling air we breathe.”
He called on the government to apply tougher regulations.
“Ministers need to deliver a national vehicle scrappage fund, reform fiscal incentives like vehicle excise duty and pass a powerful new Clean Air Act to end the toxic smog in London once and for all,” he said.
The mayor also announced plans to expand the ULEZ by 10 times by 2021, meaning that those entering the North or South Circular with a pre-2016 diesel car will be charged a daily fee.
Environmental agencies and health professionals have hailed the news.
The introduction of the Ulez charge for central London is expected to cut emissions of dangerous nitrogen oxides from traffic pollution by almost half by 2020, the mayor’s office said.
“The mayor is absolutely right to announce plans to reduce the use of diesel in London – and call on government to take stronger action nationwide,” Friends of the Earth London campaigner Sophie Neuburg said, according to the paper.
“His proposals to introduce an ULEZ earlier than originally planned, and expand it to the North and South Circular are a good first step.
“But as things stand, people in inner London will still be breathing in pollution belched out by dirty diesel vehicles for years to come.”
She also proposed Khan should follow Paris and Madrid in their commitment to eradicating pollution by vetoing diesel cars altogether by 2025.
Khan said however that those cities which have committed to a blanket ban on diesel cars have not considered their plans carefully.