Though some members of the Green Party and others have complained that the measure is past due and unlikely to do much good, London mayor Boris Johnson has made another move to clean up the city’s air. He announced that there will be substantial discounts on the purchase of new ‘green’ vans and mini-buses, chiefly for the benefit of small business owners.
Currently, large buses, coaches and lorries are required to meet Low Emission Zone standards, but smaller vans and mini-buses got an extension on the time they had to meet the same requirements. As of January 2012, about 72,000 drivers of those smaller vehicles will have to conform to LEZ standards or face a fine of £500 a day, and the regulation is in effect 24/7, unlike the congestion charge that is lifted on evenings and weekends.
London’s Low Emission Zone (LEZ) originated as part of the effort to combat its air pollution problem. The city has failed to meet minimum air quality standards set by the European Union for several years running, resulting in more than 4,000 premature deaths per year, according to recent studies. Mayor Johnson said that vans are crucial to the city’s businesses, and the discount scheme will make it easier for SMB’s to comply with LEZ regulations.
The discount/scrappage deal will be offered by Peugeot, Citroen, Ford, Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz, with trade-ins or rebates of up to £3,500. Whether or not it will be a sufficient financial incentive remains to be seen.