The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has warned that many bakery distributors may not be prepared for the new Transport for London Low Emission Zone scheme, which came into force on Monday, 4 February.

Bakery distributors working in and around London, which do not meet the required low emission levels, face the prospect of paying a £200 a day charge or a penalty of £1,000. Operators of vehicles between 3.5 and 12 tonnes still have until 8 July to become compliant.

"Lorry operators are having to pay an enormous price - £100 million in operator costs and £130 million in London taxpayers’ money - for a trivial improvement in air quality," said Gordon Telling, FTA’s head of policy for London.

"This money could have been far better spent on grants or other incentives for the introduction of vehicles and equipment, which would actually make a worthwhile improvement."

To comply with the new legislation, there are a number of options available, including applying for a Low Emission Certificate, modifying the vehicle with a particulate filter or buying a compliant vehicle.

The FTA said operators that do not take their vehicles into London are still recommended to check the Eligible Engines List, to get a Low Emission Certificate, as it may entitle them to a reduction in Vehicle Excise Duty (VED).