Further emissions crackdown dropped

A crackdown on polluting vehicles in London has been suspended over fears that it would harm small businesses already hit by the recession.

Mayor Boris Johnson has said that the Low Emission Zone scheme targeting vans and minibuses, due to start next October, has now been put on hold.

It already includes the most polluting lorries, buses and coaches, which face steep compliance charges or fines if they flout emissions standards.

If it had been extended, 90,000 vehicle owners would have faced bills of thousands of pounds for equipment or new vehicles, or a £100 daily charge backed by a £500 daily fine.

Mr Johnson said: "I am confident that the new course we have set finds a balance between London's environmental and economic needs and that we can lower emissions in more imaginative ways."

These include the introduction of hybrid and hydrogen fuel cell buses, a £1 million trial of low carbon technology in London's taxi fleet and a bike hire scheme in the capital.

But Green Party London Assembly member Darren Johnson said that the decision, which is subject to public consultation, was a "disaster" for London's environment.

Copyright © Press Association 2009