Londoners and visitors to our great city deserve to breathe air of the highest possible quality
Phase two of the London Low Emission Zone began at 00:01 this morning (Monday 7 July 2008).
Lorries over 3.5 tonnes, buses and coaches driving in the zone are now required to meet an emissions standard of Euro III for particulate matter or face a £200 daily charge.
London has the worst air quality in the UK and among the worst in Europe.
Poor air quality worsens asthma and causes the premature death of an estimated 1,000 people each year in the Capital.
The aim of the Low Emission Zone is to cut the emissions that harm human health by targeting the largest, most polluting diesel-engine vehicles.
Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, said: 'Londoners and visitors to our great city deserve to breathe air of the highest possible quality; not splutter on a smog of poisonous fumes belching from the exhausts of buses and lorries.
'The majority of lorries that were affected by phase one of the Low Emission Zone have cleaned up their act and meet the necessary standard.
'And I hope that many of the operators affected by phase two will already have followed their example.
'But owners that fail to curb the emissions from their vehicles should be warned that they face a £200 charge for every day they drive in the Capital.'
The Low Emission Zone operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year and covers most of Greater London.
The Zone is the first scheme of its type in the UK and the largest Low Emission Zone in the world.
Cars and motorcycles are not affected by the scheme.
The first phase of the Low Emission Zone, which applies to lorries over 12 tonnes, began on 4 February 2008.
Ninety-six per cent of lorries over 12 tonnes driving in the zone now meet the emissions standard.
Nick Fairholme, Head of the London Low Emission Zone at Transport for London, said: 'The majority of vehicles affected by the second phase of the Low Emission Zone are already compliant with the scheme.
'But we are urging operators of vehicles that may be affected by phase two to check that their vehicles meet the emissions standards.
'There are a number of options they can take to make their vehicles compliant with the scheme if they wish to avoid having to pay a high daily charge to drive within Greater London.'
Dr Keith Prowse, Chair of the British Lung Foundation, said: 'Regulating the emissions levels of diesel-engine vehicles in London is another positive step in the right direction.
'Ensuring that diesel-engine vehicles comply with the required emission standards will help to reduce harmful air pollution and the BLF welcomes any initiative which aims to improve the air quality in our Capital.
'Pollution is detrimental to our overall health, can cause lung disease and aggravate any existing respiratory conditions such as asthma.'
Vehicle operators and owners can use an online vehicle compliance checker at tfl.gov.uk/lezlondon to check whether their vehicle is affected by the scheme or call 0845 607 0009 (or +44 20 7310 8998 for callers from outside the UK) for an information leaflet.
Transport for London (TfL) gives operators of vehicles that do not comply with the emissions standards a 28 day warning period to upgrade their vehicle from the date they are first seen driving within the zone.
During this time they are not issued with a penalty charge.
TfL launched an extensive information campaign in June last year aimed at owners and operators of vehicles affected by the Low Emission Zone.
The campaign has included press and radio advertising, and advertising on multiple poster sites including on the main arterial routes into London, at Eurotunnel, service stations, transport cafes and on diesel pumps.
TfL has also used direct mail to target owners and operators of non-compliant vehicles seen driving within the zone.
TfL issues warning letters to operators of non-compliant vehicles the first time they are seen within the Zone rather than issuing a penalty charge.
Operators have 28 days from the date of issue of the letter to take action to make their vehicles compliant with the Low Emission Zone emissions standards.
After the end of the 28 day period, operators will need to pay the daily charge if they wish to drive a non-compliant vehicle within the Zone.
From 4 February 2008, diesel-engine lorries over 12 tonnes have had to meet the Euro III standard for particulate matter.
This includes heavy diesel-engine vehicles exceeding 12 tonnes Gross Vehicle Weight, including goods vehicles, motor caravans, motorised horseboxes and other specialist vehicles.
Buses, coaches and lighter lorries
From 7 July 2008 the Euro III for particulate matter emissions standard has been extended to all diesel-engine vehicles between 3.5 and 12 tonnes Gross Vehicle Weight, including goods vehicles, motor caravans, motorised horseboxes and other specialist vehicles.
The emissions standard also applies to buses, coaches and larger minibuses, defined as: diesel-engine passenger vehicles with nine or more seats, exceeding 5 tonnes Gross Vehicle Weight.
From October 2010 the Euro III for particulate matter standard will be extended to diesel-engine vehicles between 1.205 tonnes unladen and 3.5 tonnes Gross Vehicle Weight and motor caravans between 2.5 tonnes and 3.5 tonnes Gross Vehicle Weight.
In addition, minibuses, defined as: diesel-engine passenger vehicles with nine or more seats below 5 tonnes Gross Vehicle Weight, will be affected.
From January 2012 all diesel-engine lorries, buses and coaches will be required to meet an emissions standard of Euro IV for particulate matter in order to drive within the Low Emission Zone at no charge.