Bakery distributors that operate within the Greater London area are being urged by Transport for London (TfL) to act now if they want to avoid paying a daily charge when the Low Emission Zone begins next year.

From 4 February, 2008, diesel-engined lorries weighing over 12 tonnes will be required to meet a specified emissions standard. Those vehicles that fail to meet this standard face a daily charge. The scheme aims to reduce traffic pollution by encouraging operators of large diesel vehicles to clean up.

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) criticised this approach. Geoff Dossetter of the FTA said: "So the Mayor of London wants to introduce a Low Emission Zone and clean up air quality - so does the freight industry. And so, no doubt, does the baking industry.

"But just to get a handle on the numbers - the cost to Transport for London of the scheme, including advertising, lawyers, consultation (sort of) and cameras, will be a whopping £130m, with a compliance cost to industry of many millions more. Ironically, if the Mayor had chosen instead to buy, outright, a set of state-of-the-art vehicles and given them away, he could have got himself a grand set of between 2,000 and 10,000 vehicles. Imagine the improvements to air quality that might have been achieved."

In a statement, TfL advised that bakery operators need to check which vehicles will be affected. In order to ensure their vehicles meet the specific emissions standards, UK-registered owners can use the vehicle compliance checker available at [].