London expands vehicle levy to improve air quality

FILE PHOTO: An exhaust pipe is seen as a vehicle sits in traffic near the Blackwall Tunnel in London

LONDON (Reuters) - London on Monday widened the area motorists with older and more polluting cars will have to pay 12.50 pounds ($17.25) to drive in, as part of efforts to improve air quality.

The Ultra Low Emission Zone has already been operational in the city centre and will now apply up to the North and South Circular roads, stretching to Tottenham in the north and Brixton in the south.

The charge affects petrol cars that do not meet at least Euro 4 standards, which became mandatory in 2005, and diesel cars not at Euro 6 levels or higher, in place since September 2015.

A 15-pound Congestion Charge in central London also applies between 0700 and 2200 BST, although exemptions apply.

Cities and nations around the world have plans to ban, restrict or impose levies on combustion engine-powered vehicles to cut pollution.

Electric cars with better single-charge ranges and government incentives are also shifting demand.

($1 = 0.7244 pounds)

(Reporting by Costas Pitas; editing by Sarah Young)