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London has a new road sign added to the forest of highway code regulars – the "Low Emissions" zone warnings.

The green circle on a white, rectangular background marks the point at which, from today, lorries over 12 tonnes are not only charged under the congestion zone penalties for entering London, but are also penalised £200 per day for high CO2 discharges.

The scheme is extended to buses, coaches, large motorcaravans, commercial vans and smaller lorries in July.

Number plate readers will track the large vehicles across the 33 London boroughs and use data from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), the Vehicle Operator Services Agency (VOSA), and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), as well as Transport for London’s (TfL) database.

Penalty notices will be issued to high-polluting offenders.

At the launch of the scheme, in May 2007, London mayor Ken Livingstone said: "In a modern world city, people should have the opportunity to live and work without fear of being poisoned by the air they breathe.

"Thousands of Londoners suffer ill-health from pollution released by traffic fumes. This is why we are launching the London-wide Low Emission Zone. It will improve Londoners’ quality of life, and help make London cleaner and greener for residents and visitors alike."

Car, motorcycle and light-van owners will not be affected by these zones.

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