The first stage kicked in on 4 February and affects lorries with a Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) above 12 tonnes. Vehicles registered before 1 January 2001 (pre-Euro 3) are affected and will either have to retrofit exhaust conversions or cough up £200/day for the privilege of doing business in the capital. Failure to comply results in a £1,000 fine.

Stage two kicks in on 7 July and brings all commercial vehicles over 3.5 tonnes under the LEZ umbrella. Minibuses, buses and coaches with more than nine seats (including the driver's) and with a GVW in excess of 5.0 tonnes are also affected. Vans and conversions in this category registered after 1 January 2002 should be unaffected, but it's worth owners checking a vehicle's status on the LEZ web site to make sure and see if they are required to pay the £100/day entrance fee.

Light commercials and minibuses under 3.5 tonnes GVW will be included in the scheme from 4 October 2010.

The effect of this latest Livingstone bureaucratic nightmare — apart from increasing the number of pencil-pushers employed — is likely to be negligible as it doesn't include passenger cars (petrol or diesel) or Black Cabs, the latter being arguably the worst polluters of the lot. That would have upset too many voters.

Anyway, the same end would have been achieved naturally, and at no cost, over time through EU vehicle emission legislation — currently at Euro 4 and soon to be Euro 5 — and older vehicles being consigned to the crusher.

The £49m would have been much better spent if it had been invested in London's woefully inadequate and expensive public transport system so that fewer cars were clogging up the streets of the capital and preventing the efficient deployment of essential commercial vehicle traffic.