Drivers of modern diesels in London face £12.50 charge

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London mayor Sadiq Khan is set to introduce the first penalty for drivers of modern diesel-powered cars, after reports surfaced that diesels bought as recently as 18 months ago face a £12.50 daily charge for driving in the capital.

According to The Times, Khan will tomorrow say that he is speeding up the introduction of the ultra-low emission zone, and that he will extend it from the middle of London to the North and South Circular, increasing its area tenfold.

The new zone is expected to arrive in 2019, and will affect almost all diesel vehicles purchased before September 2015.

The mayor has already announced that drivers of older and more polluting diesel cars will have to pay an extra £10 per day to drive in London, but this is the first time modern diesel engines have been targeted by lawmakers.

The tide of public opinion has turned against diesel in recent years, and though uptake of the fuel was encouraged with tax benefits during the 2000s, health concerns, European clean air targets and recent scandals have reduced enthusiasm.

The Times says diesel vehicles are seen as a large contributor to air pollution, which causes around 40,000 premature deaths a year in the UK. Nitrogen oxides from diesel emissions are also linked to respiratory diseases such as asthma.

RAC spokesman Nick Lyes said: "Every motorist who use the capital's roads needs to be ready for some pretty big changes that are coming up as London acts to cut harmful emissions. These will either hit drivers in the pocket or force them to rethink their choice of vehicle."