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London’s Low Emission Zone

The indefatigable London mayor, Ken Livingstone, has just inaugurated a low emission zone (LEZ) scheme. It establishes stinging fees – £200 per trip – for high-polluting vehicles’ privilege of driving within Greater London. The heaviest lorries are subject to restrictions effective today, while other lorries, buses, coaches, minibuses and large vans will be phased in over the next four years.

For newer vehicles that satisfy Euro III emission standards the fees are waived (the standard goes to Euro IV in January 2012). The owners of older vehicles will have to clean their engines if they want to avoid the penalties.

For any expatriate that may be concerned with this, cars and motorcycles are exempt. Although, if you are relocating, you may be on the hook from your moving company for the extra couple of hundred quid if their lorry does not meet emission standards.

Information about LEZ can be found on Transport for London website.


  1. Ilya

    I do not know the exact science of it, but what I read in Economist leads me to believe that European standards are considerably higher than those in the US.

  2. Jason

    “…European standards are considerably higher than those in the US.”

    I don’t know for a fact, either, but I would think that’s practically a given, considering US resistance to environmental and especially emissions regulation. There seems to be something hardwired into our culture that resents any sort of government mandate, even when it’s ostensibly for our own good. I’m grossly generalizing, of course, but Americans generally don’t like being told what to do, and we don’t like being told we’re doing anything wrong or harmful. Especially if it might limit our driving freedoms in any way. Americans are all about their cars, after all.

    That said, I personally am concerned about the whole climate change thing, as well as the “peak oil” scenario, and I wouldn’t mind seeing the US car industry become more responsible. We have the tech to get better mileage with lower emissions; the industry has just never seen the profit margin in going that direction.

    This LEZ idea is an interesting one. Do you think it’ll make much difference in pollution levels around London?

  3. Ilya

    I don’t doubt that the only way to deal with “offenders” is to ban them, or heavily tax them. (Ok, that’s two different ways.) It will certainly spur truck and coach companies into cleaning up their fleets, but whether it will make an actual difference, I am not sure. After all, the congestion charge probably reduced the number of cars in central London, but it still remains congested as hell…

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