The Low Emissions Zone (LEZ) covers most of Greater London and was first introduced in 2008 to keep the dirtiest vehicles out of the city’s streets to help clean up London and its pollutions.
Even though so far it has been a success, Boris Johnson, London’s Mayor, believes that there could still be improvements to making the air a lot clearer. He said, “Delivering cleaner air to Londoners is a key goal in creating a better quality of life. This is why the more stringent regulations have arrived for 2012, especially as this is London’s Olympic year.”
The revised Air Quality Strategy means that any cab, van or minibus that is 10 years or older will not be allowed in the LEZ. If you do have one of these vehicles, you’ll have pay £100 per day to enter the zone, or if you ignore the rules, you’ll face a fine of £250.
The rules will affect around 10% of London’s black cabs as it is believed that 1 in 10 of these cabs are older than 15 years. This means that approximately 2,600 black cabs will not be allowed to trade in the city.
Because the age limit on black cabs will be on a rolling basis, when a 15 year old cab’s licence expires, they will not be able to renew again for use in London, however, can renew their licence and taxi insurance for use out of the LEZ. The Mayor’s office does point out that the taxis will be upgraded with cleaner vehicles.
Nick Fairholme from Transport for London, says “The new standards introduced in January are vital to our continued efforts to tackle pollution. The vast majority of owners and organisations have taken steps to prepare. Transport for London has a team of people in place to provide practical advice to anyone who remains concerned about how these new standards will impact them.”
On the other hand, Green Party member of the London Assembly, Darren Johnson believes that they Mayor’s Office and Transport for London has not done enough to encourage and help small businesses. He said, “Few incentives are in place to help cut the cost of vehicle replacement. The Mayor has failed to help out hard-pressed individuals and small businesses by funding a targeted scrappage and conversion scheme.”
He added, “Black cab operators have been promised help to update their cabs, but this has been done at the expense of funding for electric and hydrogen cabs in the future.”