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Central London drivers face emissions and congestion fees of £24 a day from 2019

Polluting cars will be forced to pay up to £24 a day to drive in central London from 2019, under plans unveiled by Mayor Sadiq Khan.

All but the newest diesel cars will face a £12.50 charge to drive in the planned ultra low emissions zone (Ulez), which would cover the same central area as the current congestion charge zone.

Under the plans, diesel cars that are more than four years old in 2019 and petrol cars that are more than 13 years old will face the charge 24 hours a day, year-round, in a bid to cut air pollution.

With the congestion charge during weekday hours, the total fee for the most polluting cars to drive through the heart of London would be £24.

Buses, coaches and HGVs that do not meet the emissions standards will have to pay £100. The Ulez will apply to all types of vehicle except black taxis.

Mr Khan is also consulting on plans to extend the Ulez across greater London for heavy diesel vehicles such as lorries from 2020, and as far out as the North and South Circular roads for cars and vans from 2021.

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.

London is one of a number of areas across the UK where air quality is failing to meet legal standards, contributing to early deaths and ill health for residents.

Mr Khan has already confirmed there will be a £10 "toxicity" T-charge for the most polluting vehicles driving through central London, which starts in October.

Under the plans, the Ulez charge, covering more vehicles, will replace the T-charge in April 2019.

The mayor said: "The air in London is lethal and I will not stand by and do nothing.

'Today I'm announcing bold proposals which are critically needed to safeguard Londoners from our air quality health crisis."

He said the measures would help improve the air that millions of Londoners breathe, and was consulting on them now to give those affected by the new charges time to adapt to the low emissions rules.

'Now I urge the Government to step up and match my ambition to transform the appalling air we breathe.

"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 added.

The Ulez for central London had originally been expected to be implemented in September 2020.

Dr Penny Woods, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation, said: "It's great news that the ultra low emission zone will be introduced so much earlier than planned.

"Air pollution is a public health crisis that hits hardest people with a lung condition and children whose lungs are still developing.

"The mayor has a justified sense of urgency, Londoners can't afford to wait any longer to breathe clean air and we now need more support from the Government."

RAC roads policy spokesman Nick Lyes said: "Many businesses will have been preparing for the introduction of the ultra low emission zone (Ulez) in 2020, with the zone now kicking in a year earlier firms are likely to face additional costs earlier than they were expecting.

"But every motorist who uses the capital's roads needs to be ready for some pretty big changes that are coming up as London acts to cut harmful emissions which will either hit drivers in the pocket or force them to rethink their choice of vehicle."

He said the expanded area the Ulez could cover was significant as a "huge swathe" of residential zones would be in it, while drivers in other cities would be waiting to see what plans would be introduced to cut pollution elsewhere in the UK.

The Government has to publish updated clean air plans by April 24, after the courts ruled existing plans to meet EU-mandated air quality limits, which are being broken across many areas of the country, were not sufficient.

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