If you drive an old diesel clunker in London you might want to think about upgrading to a cleaner vehicle. If you walk or bike, though, you should rejoice.
Starting next year, London drivers of large vans, pickup trucks, minibuses, and other vehicles with high-polluting diesel engines will have to clean up their emissions act in order to drive throughout much of the Greater London region.
That's because emissions on most streets in Greater London are controlled by the what's known as the Low Emission Zone. Within the zone, drivers of high-polluting diesel vehicles are charged a stiff fee. And London is going a step further to clean up its air by making the Low Emission Zone even more strict.
Until now, [Transport for London]'s Low Emissions Zone has restricted only those driving bigger, mostly commercial, vehicles into the capital. But from 3 January 2012 it will also affect the owners of larger vans, campers and minibuses first registered before January 2002. Larger motorhomes, first registered before 2006, will also have to comply. The rules affect diesel, not petrol engines.
If you've got such a vehicle, you will need to have an expensive particulate filter added to the exhaust system – or pay a £100 or £200 charge for every day you drive in the capital. If you don't, you'll incur a £500 fine.
Many face having to move their vehicle out of London in January, or paying the fine every time they drive – even for a trip to the local supermarket. Many may decide it is not worth spending the money on their elderly van, and be forced to sell up.
When you enter the zone, cameras scan your plates and check them against databases to see if the vehicle is up to emissions standards. The idea is to encourage drivers and vehicle fleets to upgrade to cleaner vehicles while cleaning up the city's air.
It might be an inconvenience for drivers, but it seem like a small price to pay when you consider that an estimated 4,000 death are caused each year by poor air quality in London.
Photo: EURIST e.V./Flickr
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com