The National Grid has hailed the world’s first 24-hour ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) in London as a “great step forward”.

The Central London ULEZ, which launched today (8 April), will operate in the same area as the current congestion charge zone in a bid to reduce air pollution in the capital.

Motorists who drive into the zone in a vehicle that does not meet the new emission standard will have to pay a daily charge.

There will be two ULEZ charge levels – £12.50 a day for cars, vans and motorbikes and £100 a day for lorries, buses and coaches

The National Grid’s electric vehicles project director, Graeme Cooper, said while the ULEZ is a “great step forward”, air pollution can only be tackled if “we all make a conscious effort to move towards using and buying vehicles that have lower emissions like electric vehicles”.

“However, more supportive measures are needed, from all sectors, to make real progress on this issue; this would include stronger government commitment to air quality/zero emission vehicle ambitions, cheaper lower emission vehicles alongside incentives to help reduce their cost and a strategic network of publicly accessible charge points that can give consumers the confidence to move away from diesel and petrol fuelled cars,” added Cooper.

The Renewable Energy Association’s policy manager, Daniel Brown added that the new zone is a “milestone policy in the UK”.

“This sends a clear message to the UK and global car manufacturers that electric vehicles are here to stay and need to be built in volume, particularly as other cities follow suit,” said Brown.

“The EV charging industry will be busy for the next two years deploying charging infrastructure ahead of October 2021 when the London ULEZ tightens, becoming available only to zero emission vehicles.”