London to tax old cars to combat air pollution

London : Motorists in London who own old polluting vehicles are to be hit with a new charge from October, Mayor Sadiq Khan said on Friday, two days after the EU ordered Britain to cut air pollution.

"The context is this: over 9,000 Londoners die each year because of low quality air," Khan told the BBC after announcing the new "Toxic Charge".

The new £10 ($12.5, 11.7 euros) "T-Charge" will apply to motorists who own vehicles that do not meet European standards -- typically petrol and diesel cars registered before 2006 -- and come on top of the congestion charge for the city centre.

All vehicles entering central London already pay a daily £11.50 congestion charge, introduced in 2003 to ease pressure on the city's roads.

The new policy was unveiled two days after the European Union issued a warning to five member states including Britain, urging them to take action on car pollution or risk being sent to the European Court of Justice.

The European Commission said that "persistently high" levels of nitrogen dioxide caused 70,000 premature deaths in Europe in 2013.

Heavy smog has enveloped much of Europe this winter prompting emergency measures in several big cities including London, Paris and Berlin.

In January, London authorities issued a "black" alert for very high levels of particulates -- 10 out of 10 on the air pollution scale -- as a cloud of freezing smog forced the cancellation of around 100 flights.

The new tax is part of a package of measures London will introduce over the coming months and years to tackle high air pollution.

These include no longer buying diesel buses, doubling the amount invested in retrofit buses, and the introduction of an Ultra Low Emission Zone from 2018.

Khan also urged the government to help motorists move away from diesel vehicles and ratify a "Clean Air Act for the 21st century".

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