A measuring hose for emissions inspection. Picture: AFP
A measuring hose for emissions inspection. Picture: AFP

London — London mayor Sadiq Khan announced a major expansion to the capital city’s ultra-low emissions zone that will charge drivers of the most polluting vehicles.

The new zone will be 18 times larger than the original one, stretching from the North and South circular roads in suburban London, according to an e-mailed statement from the mayor’s office. The new rules will come into force in October 2021.

The UK has been violating the EU’s standards on air quality since 2010, with London breaking the annual limit by just the first month of the year. The biggest source of pollution is nitrogen oxide emissions from diesel vehicles, which have proved to harm human health.

"Tackling London’s lethal air and safeguarding the health of Londoners requires bold action," Khan said. "Air pollution is a national health crisis and I refuse to stand back as thousands of Londoners breathe in air so filthy that it shortens our life expectancy, harms our lungs and worsens chronic illness."

The city’s first ultra-low emissions zone will be implemented on April 8 2019 and covers central London. It will charge drivers of noncompliant vehicles £12.50 per day. Kahn’s office said this would be extended to include buses, coaches and trucks by 2020.

"We estimate that expanding the ultra low emission zone will reduce road transport emissions by a further 28% across London, so this expansion is a huge step towards protecting the health of all Londoners," said Lilli Matson, Transport for London’s director of strategy.