Precise details are yet to emerge, but it’s probable that they’ll be caught up in legislation aimed at restricting the larger diesel vehicles that contribute the most to harmful nitrogen oxide levels.
Since his election as Mayor in 2008, Johnson’s measures to tackle air pollution have included tightening Low Emissions Zone regulations to include large vans, and introducing age limits on taxis, abolishing more than 2300 cabs in 2013. Now his plans for the world’s first ‘Ultra Low Emissions Zone’ could take these measures further.
Vehicles built before the introduction of Euro Emissions Standards in 1992 are already banned from a number of city centres across Europe, particularly in Germany. But whereas German classics are allowed inside Low Emissions Zones once they’ve been professionally assessed, classed as ‘historic’, and given ‘H’ plates, there’s no such provision in the UK: MoT and tax exemptions aren’t indications of historic status, just acknowledgements of a vehicle’s age.
So unless Boris can come up some exemptions and write them into future legislation – and there’s no indication yet that that will happen – it’s likely that all vehicles pre-1992 could be banned, with even tighter laws coming by 2020.
Although we support efforts to reduce air pollution, it’s hard to imagine that the tiny number of old cars in London – ropey old buckets and priceless classics alike – have a significant impact on the city’s air quality.