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London's Low Emission Zone starts

04 February 2008

Charges of up to £200 and penalties for large polluting vehicles entering London started this week. The move is designed to improve air quality in London.

The London Low Emission Zone (LEZ) came into effect this week (4th February). The aim of the scheme is to improve air quality in the city by deterring the most polluting vehicles from driving in the area. The Low Emission Zone (LEZ) affects older, diesel-engined lorries, buses, coaches, large vans (exceeding 1.205 tonnes unladen weight) and minibuses (over eight seats plus the driver's seat and below 5 tonnes). Cars, motorcycles and small vans (under 1.205 tonnes unladen weight) are not included in the LEZ.

It also affects other specialist vehicles that are derived from lorries and vans, including motorised horse boxes, breakdown and recovery vehicles, refuse collection vehicles, snow ploughs, gritters, road sweepers, concrete mixers, tippers, removals lorries, fire engines, extended-cab dual purpose pick-ups and some light utility vehicles. Motor caravans, ambulances and large hearses (over 2.5 tonnes) are also included.
The LEZ applies to all vehicles, irrespective of whether they are used for commercial or private use.

Initially lorries over 12 tonnes are included but different vehicles will be affected over time and tougher emissions standards will be introduced in January 2012. Cars and motorcycles are not affected by the scheme.

The objective of the Low Emission Zone (LEZ) is to improve air quality in London. London has the worst air pollution in the UK and amongst the worst in Europe, adversely affecting the health and quality of life of many Londoners. The Mayor of London has a legal obligation to take steps towards meeting national and European Union air quality objectives which are designed to protect human health.

In London, road transport is the single biggest source of Particulate Matter (PM10) and oxides of Nitrogen(NOX). These are the primary causes of air quality-related health problems, including asthma. The Mayor believes a Low Emission Zone is the most effective way to achieve reductions of the most harmful road transport generated emissions in London.

Vehicles automatically exempt from the LEZ include those designed and built for mainly off-road use, but which may be used on the road for limited purposes, including agricultural and forestry tractors, mowing machines, agricultural and farm machinery and equipment, mobile cranes, road and building construction machinery, historic vehicles (built before 1 January 1973) and military vehicles.

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