Sadiq Khan has announced that the Ultra Low Emission Zone (Ulez) will be extended to cover the whole of London.
It means hundreds of thousands more motorists will face a daily charge of £12.50 to drive in the capital.
RAC head of road policy Nicholas Lyes called it “a hammer blow to desperate drivers and businesses already struggling with crippling fuel costs”.
The scheme is currently limited to the area within the North and South Circular Roads. From 29 August next year it will be extended across Greater London.
It operates at all times except Christmas Day.
Transport for London (TfL) estimates that on an average day around 160,000 cars and 42,000 vans using London’s roads will be liable for the charge.
But transportation officials believe that by the end of next year, the expansion of the scheme will have encouraged tens of thousands of those drivers to switch to vehicles that comply with minimum emissions standards or use other means of getting around, such as walking, cycling or public transport. transport.
Whether a vehicle is liable for the tax depends on how much nitrogen dioxide it emits.
In order for diesel cars and vans to be exempt from the tax, they must as a general rule have been registered from 2016, while most petrol models registered from 2006 are exempt.
Drivers can check the status of their vehicle by entering the registration number on TfL’s website.
Khan said air pollution was making Londoners “sick from cradle to grave”, with diseases such as cancer, lung disease, dementia and asthma.
He described Ulez as “transformative” and claimed expanding it will mean “five million more people will be able to breathe cleaner air and live healthier lives”.
The mayor insisted the rising cost of living was a “key consideration” in his decision to implement the proposal, which was discussed in a public hearing between May and July.
This led him to introduce measures such as a £110m scrappage scheme to support Londoners on lower incomes, disabled people, small businesses and charities to scrap or retrofit their non-compliant vehicles.
There will also be a major expansion of bus services in outer London.
Khan added: “Extending Ulez to the whole of London has not been an easy decision.
“The easy thing for me would have been to kick the can down the road. But in the end, public health comes before political expediency.’
Billionaire businessman Michael Bloomberg, who is the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Climate Ambition and Solutions, claimed that Khan’s leadership “is helping to clean up London’s air and is an example for cities around the world”.
But RAC head of road policy Nicholas Lyes said the announcement would be “a hammer blow to desperate drivers and businesses already struggling with crippling fuel costs”.
Michael Lloyd of the Federation of Small Businesses said a “heavy-handed” Ulez extension would “leave many small firms in a precarious position”.
He added that a recent survey of affected small businesses suggested 18% planned to close if the expansion went ahead, and 25% intended to pass the extra cost on to customers.
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