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Air Quality

High-Emission Vehicles to Pay £200 ($400!) to Enter London

London mayor Ken Livingstone, whose congestion-pricing plan has served as a model for Mayor Bloomberg's, is expected to unveil today an even more radical measure aimed at reducing pollution in his city. According to the Guardian, Livingstone's proposal would target high-emission commercial vehicles:

Ken Livingstone is expected to confirm that older, "dirtier" lorries and buses will be charged £200 a day to drive in London. London First, a lobby group for businesses in the capital, has warned that the scheme will hit smaller firms that cannot afford modern vehicles that are exempt.

Mr Livingstone also plans to adapt the £8-a-day congestion charge so the most polluting vehicles pay £25 a day to enter.

The LEZ will cover all of London's 33 boroughs, rather than the smaller congestion zone, which straddles central and western areas of the city....Fines will be far more punitive than the congestion scheme, with transgressors facing a bill of up to £1,000.

The LEZ has been earmarked for launch next year and will be extended to vans and buses by 2010, in effect giving businesses two years' notice to overhaul their fleets.

Mr Livingstone has commissioned a report on the LEZ and indicated earlier this year that he would push ahead with it. "London suffers from the worst air quality in the UK and the proposed low-emission zone would target those diesel engine lorries, coaches, buses, heavier vans and minibuses which are pumping out the most harmful pollutants," he said.

Transport for London, the capital's transport body, estimates the LEZ would prevent about 40 deaths a year from pollution-related illnesses and avoid up to 86 hospital admissions. Some businesses have backed the LEZ and called for even more stringent curbs.

The Knightsbridge Association called for a more ambitious scheme. "The LEZ should go much further, much faster," it said. 

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