Commercial vehicles that were registered before October 2006, including motor caravans, lorries, horseboxes and vans will be effected by the changes to the London emission rules, which means they have to pay a fee of £100 per day to drive in Greater London, any time of the day or evening.
All these vehicles will have to fit filters that can cost up to £3,500 as well as undergoing a £32 annual inspection by the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency, not forgetting yearly MOT checks and the cost of commercial vehicle insurance and fuel.
The Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras covering the whole of Greater London will help enforce the low emission zone.
The cameras will identify the vehicles by cross checking with the VOSA database and confirm whether a filter has been fitted. If the daily charge has not been paid then drivers will face a £500 fine.
Improving the Air
The new low emission plans hope to improve air quality in Greater London.
Even though the plans are being supported by environmentalists, there are concerns among small businesses and voluntary groups.
Many sports clubs and church groups around London rely on minibuses, for example the London Football Association.
A spokesman said, “Transport is already one of the greatest obstacles to participation particularly in London and the low emission law will create an even bigger challenge,”
“We are working hard with teams and leagues across London to try and find ways around this, but in the current economic climate this is and will prove to be a massive struggle.”
The senior development manager for the Federation of Small Businesses, Matthew Jaffa, warned the changes will have a big impact.
“Some of our members are still unsure of the changes. Many feel that their vehicles do comply with the standards but are still being told to retrofit the filters.
“It will also affect small businesses in Kent and Essex. Many have said that they will no longer be able to service London.
“In the year of the Olympics London is supposed to be open for businesses, but the opposite seems to be the case.”
The Mayor’s Director for the Environment, Kulveer Ranger, defended the zone. He said, “The Mayor wants to deliver cleaner air for London to tackle the legacy he inherited, which poses a serious health threat to many especially the most vulnerable in our city,
“The changes to the Low Emission Zone standards will broadly double the impact of the existing scheme. They will be coupled with an unprecedented wider package of measures set to be implemented at this time to improve the capital’s air quality.
“In a historic year for this city, when the eye’s of the world are focused on London, it is right that we are demanding the highest environmental standards and a higher quality of life for Londoners.”
Transport for London said that if drivers could prove that they had ordered the necessary filtering equipment before 3rd January, they would not be penalised.