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Drivers of polluting vehicles in the UK will have to pay 10 pounds to drive in central London as part of a latest move to improve air quality in the British capital, authorities said on Monday.
The European Union had in February asked the British government to combat air pollution in London, one of Europe's most polluted cities.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan introduced the new levy, known as T-Charge or Toxic Charge, on drivers of older and more polluting vehicles entering the city centre from today.
The 10 pounds (USD 13.18) vehicle pollution charge, which mainly applies to diesel and petrol vehicles registered before 2006, covers the same area as the existing congestion charge zone, bumping up the cost to 21.50 pounds (USD 28.33) for those affected.
Opponents of the new levy, however, said that the scheme would "disproportionately penalise London's poorest drivers".
The measure is the latest attempt by Khan to improve air quality in the capital and according to the mayor's office, it will affect 34,000 motorists a month.
Speaking during a programme, Khan said: "We've got a health crisis in London caused by the poor quality air.
"Roughly speaking each year more than 9,000 Londoners die prematurely because of the poor quality air -- children in our city whose lungs are underdeveloped, with adults who suffer from conditions such as asthma, dementia and strokes directly caused by poor quality air."
However, Simon Birkett, from the campaign group Clean Air London, does not believe the move goes far enough.
"The Mayor has pledged in his manifesto to restore London's air quality to legal and safe limits and that means he has to do a whole lot more.
"We want him to take steps which are bigger, stronger an smarter," Birkett said.
Khan has described the introduction of the T-Charge as "part of a package of measures" being undertaken.
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