London's ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) will be expanded to include the north and south circular roads from October 2021, London Mayor Sadiq Khan has confirmed.

Approximately 100,000 cars, 35,000 vans and 3,000 lorries will be affected by the new ULEZ taking effect from April 8th in 2019, covering an area 18 times larger than the zone in central London.

The expanded zone will operate in the same way as the central ULEZ, in force on a 24/7 basis, with drivers of non-compliant vehicles expected to pay a daily charge of £12.50 in addition to any congestion charges.

Vehicles subject to charges include: motorbikes beneath Euro 3 standard; petrol cars and vans beneath Euro 4 standards (under 15 years old, roughly, in 2021); and diesel cars and vans below Euro 6 standards (under six years old in 2021).

Khan also announced tightening of standards within London's existing low emission zone, with diesel buses, coaches and lorries required to meet the Euro 6 standard from October 2020.

Khan said: “I promised hard-hitting measures to tackle our shameful air pollution and today city hall is confirming the next stage of our plans to expand the ultra-low emission zone up to the north and south circular roads.

“We’re doing everything in our power to tackle this issue and are starting to see improvements in air quality with the wide-ranging action we’ve taken already on tackling the most polluting cars, and cleaning up our bus and taxi fleet.

“An expanded ultra-low emission zone, in conjunction with the central London ULEZ, will really help transform the air that millions of Londoners breathe."

Stuart Thomas, director of fleet and SME services at the AA, said: “The mayor’s plans to extend the ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) to most of London from 2021 is a radical step, which some businesses may struggle to budget for in terms of increased costs.

“Currently, there is too much stick and not enough carrot in the mayor’s plans to increase emissions standards for vehicles operating in the capital.

“Roadside emissions testing shows that the worst 10% of gross polluters cause 50% of the problem, which tend to be older buses, trucks, taxis and poorly serviced cars.

Conceding that some motorists will require support to switch to greener transport, Khan is urging the Government to consider a diesel scrappage scheme to make the transition easier for businesses.

Feedback from recent ULEZ consultations prompted the Mayor to give an extended deadline for replacement of disabled tax class and specially adapted private hire vehicles, up to 2025. This represents an extra 6.5 years from the introduction of the central London ULEZ to ensure compliance. Charity organisations also have a longer period, up to October 2023, to replace existing minibuses.

Nicholas Lyes, RAC roads policy spokesman, said: "Residents and small businesses within this area now have just three years to become compliant with the Mayor’s emission standards. This means many now face the daunting challenge of having to spend substantial amounts of money on a newer vehicle or face a daily charge of £12.50 to use their vehicles from October 2021.

“These time pressures and costs will be keenest felt by those from low income backgrounds, as well as those who work in roles such as hospitality and depend on using a car at night when public transport is not readily available.

“Motorists currently have no quick and easy means of knowing for certain what Euro emissions standard their car, or one they are looking to buy, meets – so it is absolutely vital that a central database is developed as quickly as possible.”

The Mayor is collaborating with Transport for London (TfL) to ensure that London's public transport sets the standard for low emissions, with bus and taxi stock being replaced by hybrid, electric and other zero-emissions capable vehicles by 2020.

Lilli Matson, TfL's director of transport strategy, said: “We estimate that expanding the ULEZ will reduce road transport NOx emissions by a further 28 per cent across London, so this expansion is a huge step towards protecting the health of all Londoners.”