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Low emission scheme put on hold

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London Mayor Boris Johnson has delayed plans to prevent polluting vehicles entering the capital amid fears it could cause damage to small businesses.

For drivers who own eco-friendly cars and benefit from cheaper car insurance, the Low Emission Zone scheme will not impact on their driving costs. But extended plans, which were expected to commence from October 2010, meant smaller vehicles such as vans and minibuses would face charges or fines if they did not comply with emissions standards in the capital.

Currently the most polluting lorries, buses and coaches already face charges in a bid to improve air quality, but the idea to include smaller vehicles in the scheme will be put on hold to protect companies during the recession.

Had it been extended 90,000 vehicle owners would have faced bills of thousands of pounds to fit abatement equipment or buy new vehicles. Alternatively they would pay £100 daily charges or £500 fines for each day they drove into Greater London.

Mr Johnson said: "Simply put, the cost of fitting pollution equipment or getting a new vehicle would have come as a punch in the ribs to those who need our help at this time, would have destroyed profit margins and endangered our businesses."

© Press Association 2009