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Operators urged to take action now to meet tougher London low emission zone standards

Transport for London (TfL) is urging the owners and operators of the estimated 150,000 vehicles affected by new emissions standards in January 2012 to take action now to avoid fines. The LEZ is in force 24 hours a day, every day of the week, across Greater London.

From 3 January 2012 vehicles that are already affected by the LEZ – HGVs, buses and coaches – will have to meet a Euro IV standard for particulate matter (PM) to drive within Greater London without paying a £200 daily charge.

Also from this date, larger vans, minibuses and other specialist vehicles will have to meet LEZ standards for the first time. These vehicles will have to meet a Euro 3 emissions standard for particulate matter (PM) in order to drive within Greater London without paying a £100 daily charge.

Whilst most vehicles set to be affected by the scheme are already compliant, for the minority that are not, the Mayor Boris Johnson, recently announced he has secured significant discounts off a range of new vans and minibuses in an unprecedented package of financial deals. Eighty per cent of vehicles affected by the LEZ for the first time in 2012 are vans and offers from manufacturers in some cases amount to thousands of pounds off a new vehicle.

Larger vans and minibuses were originally due to be included in the LEZ from 4 October 2010, however, the Mayor took the decision, following public consultation, to defer the introduction in tough economic times to give the owners and operators of the estimated 70,000 non-compliant vehicles, many of which are smaller businesses and charities, more time to make the necessary changes.

Kulveer Ranger, the Mayor’s environment director, said: "The Mayor is taking robust steps to deliver cleaner air and improve Londoners’ health. Changes to the Low Emission Zone in January are a key part of these plans.

"The vast majority of vehicles set to be affected by these new standards are already compliant. However, a small minority of drivers still need to take action to avoid fines. There is a range of options available to vehicle owners and as part of this, the Mayor has agreed deals with a number of vehicle manufacturers for discounts off new vehicles. However, some options to make vehicles compliant, such as fitting an approved filter, can take up to three months to complete, so I urge those who are affected to take action as soon as possible."

The LEZ was introduced in 2008 and has been successful in delivering significant reductions in harmful vehicle emissions but the scheme now needs to go further to ensure London meets legally required air quality standards. Air pollution is a serious health issue in London contributing to an estimated 4,300 premature deaths in a year with many more people, especially children and the elderly, having their quality of life adversely impacted by it. London also has to meet European legal standards for air quality. TfL estimates that the changes to the LEZ will broadly double the impact of earlier phases in reducing harmful particulate matter pollution in the Capital.

There are a range of options available to vehicle operators to ensure their vehicles comply with the LEZ standards, including fitting an approved exhaust filter; purchasing a cleaner new or second hand vehicle; re-organising a fleet so that only vehicles which meet the required emissions standards drive within the LEZ; or leasing or renting a compliant vehicle. Owners of vehicles that do not meet the emissions standards and have not paid a daily charge and drive within the LEZ risk a significant penalty charge.

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