Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, has announced that starting in April 2019, drivers of the ‘most polluting cars’ will have to pay a fee to drive in the city.
The fee will affect all diesel cars more than 4 years old and petrol cars more than 13 years old. Roughly 150,000 car owners will be affected by the new law, and required to pay a daily fee or switch to more environmentally friendly vehicles.
The fee will range from £3 - £12.50 a day, depending on the age and classification of the vehicle. This will be in addition to the existing congestion charge, but will replace the previous toxicity charge, under which pre-2006 diesel and petrol vehicle drivers must pay £10 pounds when entering London during peak times.
The ultra-low emissions zone (ULEZ), the area in which these rules will be imposed, will initially cover central London and later expand in 2021, to cover surrounding municipalities.
Additionally, there is no sparing ride-sharing services like Uber, which are also set face the fee. Uber has already announced prior, it will expand its fleet of electric cars to combat London's air pollution. Currently, Uber has a fleet of 50 electric Nissan Leaf cars in London but is set to add an additional 100 to its inventory soon.
The announcement comes just days after research by the Guardian and Greenpeace showed alarming levels of air pollution across the UK. The research found that more than 2000 schools and nurseries located near roads exceed the legal EU limit of nitrogen dioxide pollution of 40µg/m3, exposing 47,000 babies and children to unhealthy amounts of air pollution.
One conclusion to draw from the research is that air pollution does not only concern London, but is a national problem affecting all of the UK. Birmingham is shown to be one of the most hazardous areas for nitrogen dioxide, second only to London.
London’s mayor Khan has made cleaner air for London a clear priority, claiming that air pollution takes 9,000 lives in London every year. This latest move follows Khan’s announcement last year to make London’s Oxford Street a vehicle-free pedestrian zone.