Air quality is becoming an increasingly political issue and the UK government has received a fair amount of criticism for failing to address the problem.
Across Europe, Low Emission Zones (LEZs) are being used more and more as a way of combating emissions from vehicles in highly polluted areas.
Recently, it was announced that four cities in Scotland – Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee – will join London as UK cities with the LEZs.
Glasgow’s LEZ is expected to be in place by the end of the year giving motorists very little time to prepare. Other Scottish zones could be in place by 2020.
The Scottish zones could see some vehicles banned altogether, with others charged up to £20 to drive down certain streets in the cities.
There are more than 200 of these low emission zones across Europe. London’s LEZ, which has been in place since 2008, is the largest in Europe.
They are designed to stop as many large polluting vehicles from entering polluted zones and to incentivise vehicle owners to update their cars and fleets.
Before the London LEZ, the capital city has one of the oldest delivery fleets in the UK. This changed in the run-up to the implementation of the zone. But Labour Mayor Sadiq Khan isn’t satisfied with that and wants to go further with changes.
From 23 October, many older and more polluting cars will have to pay an extra £10 to drive in the centre of the city.
This so-called ‘T-Charge’ (toxicity charge) will be replaced by the world’s first Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) in the capital from April 2019.
Under the proposals, from April 8 2019, diesel cars and vans that don’t meet the Euro 6 environmental standard will have to pay £12.50 and HGVs, buses and coaches will face a daily charge of £100.
This new charge was, in part, a response to much national and international criticism of Britain’s record on air quality.
A recent UN report concluded that Britain has been ‘flouting’ its duty to protect citizen lives and health.
In 2016, a cross-party group of MPs declared air pollution a ‘public health emergency’ causing an estimated 40,000 early deaths in Britain every year.
The quality of the air is worst in London but many other places have levels of pollution that are illegal including Leeds, Birmingham, Bournemouth and Northampton.
London breached its nominal annual air pollution limits just five days into 2017 at Brixton Road in south London.