A “patchwork approach” to pollution charging across the country will be “bewildering” for drivers, a motoring research charity warned on the day one of the world’s toughest vehicle emissions standards was introduced in the capital.
Local authorities across Britain, including several in Yorkshire, are planning to introduce schemes with a variety of rules, following the launch of the ultra-low emission zone in London today.
The measures will mean certain vehicles will be liable for a charge in some towns and cities but not others, says the RAC Foundation, a transport policy and research organisation.
Drivers of older, more polluting cars face paying a new £12.50 fee to enter the centre of the capital after the ultra-low emission zone (Ulez) came into force this morning.
Diesel cars must be less than roughly four years old to avoid the charge, while petrol cars must be less than about 13 years old.
London mayor Sadiq Khan said the scheme is being brought in because thousands of Londoners are dying early every year as a result of toxic air, with an increased risk of cancer, asthma, dementia and stroke.
He claimed the Ulez will “help clean our air and reduce harmful road transport emissions”.
RAC Foundation director Steve Gooding said: “With good reason, councils around the country are looking to follow where London is leading and improve air quality. But a patchwork approach to rule setting, where every town and city appears to have differing sets of restrictions, charges and penalties, can appear bewildering.
“Some sort of regulatory uniformity will not only increase compliance but also allow drivers and businesses to buy vehicles they know they will be able to use in the future, albeit possibly at an additional cost.”
Among the plans to improve air quality is in Leeds, where a 24/7 clean air zone has been approved for January 2020. This will see the most polluting taxis, minicabs and vans facing a £12.50 daily fee in Yorkshire’s biggest city, while buses, coaches and lorries will pay £50.
In Sheffield, a low emission zone has been proposed for older taxis, minicabs, vans and minibuses, but no start date, hours of operation or daily charge has been confirmed.
Elsewhere, there are restrictions on older buses in Oxford, while Brighton and York will introduce similar schemes in 2020. Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Dundee have all committed to having low emission zones by 2021.