London mayor Boris Johnson agonised over the decision to introduce tougher standards for the London Low Emission Zone, Peter Hendy, the Transport for London commissioner has told the Road Haulage Association annual lunch.
From 3rd January, trucks will have to meet Euro IV emission standards instead of Euro III, and for the first time larger vans will come under the regulations.
The penalty for not meeting the new standard is a £200 daily charge.
Hendy said Johnson recognised the problems that this would cause operators and had delayed the introduction of the tougher standards to give companies more time to prepare.
However, two factors had driven the decision. One was the effect of pollution on children with asthma. The other was the fact that the UK is in breach of European air quality guidelines and is in line for fines of hundreds of millions of euros if changes are not made.
Hendy also used his speech to try to allay concerns over the impact of the Olympics on distribution in London. “We want everyone to benefit from the Olympics,” he said.
TfL has decided to suspend all roadworks in London for a period around the games to minimise the impact of the event.
On special Olympics traffic lanes, Hendy said these would account for only one per cent of the route network and only one third of these would have exclusive games lanes. The lanes would only existing for the minimum time necessary around the games so the impact would be less that some feared.
He urged companies to reduce their use of transport where possible during the games period and he highlighted the steps TfL was taking to provide information to operators.