A new low emissions zone in London will “divide communities and hurt vulnerable people” say campaigners claiming there are better ways to reduce air pollution.

The Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) will be introduced in central London in April this year and expand to the North and South Circular Roads in October 2021.

Anyone driving in the zone will have to meet certain emissions standards or be forced to pay a daily charge.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan yesterday called on anyone who drives in central London to check if their vehicle complies with new emissions standards before the ULEZ comes into force later this year.

He said: “London’s toxic air is a public health emergency and the introduction of ULEZ is exactly the sort of bold action that is required to deal with it.

“I’m delighted we were able to bring the introduction of the zone forward to April this year, ensuring people both in and outside the zone experience the benefits of ULEZ sooner.”

But Afzal Akram, the borough campaign manager for the Waltham Forest Conservatives, who has been campaigning against the ULEZ on behalf of residents in Chingford, hit out at Mr Khan for his plans to extend the zone.

Mr Akram said: “It’s not a very effective way of controlling emissions. Creating diesel scrappage schemes or making all buses electric will be more effective than Sadiq Khan putting all that work into installing cameras on the North and South Circular roads.

“This will divide whole communities and hurt vulnerable people.”

Extending the ULEZ to the North and South Circular Roads could see Chingford residents pay £12.50 to drive to their local hospital, Whipps Cross in Leytonstone, or the other side of the North Circular Road.

Mr Akram raised concerns this would affect older and more vulnerable people who might not be able to afford to swap their cars for models that meet new emissions standards.

He said: “If people can’t afford to change their car there is nothing they can do about it and those people are likely to be hit in the pockets.

“Those most affected will be older, poorer and more vulnerable people.”

“People may also make the decision to stop going to hospital appointments or visiting parents or elderly people because they can’t afford to cross through the ULEZ.”

Mr Akram also said that whilst the ULEZ might work in central London it won’t have the same effect in outer parts of the capital.

He said: “There is more congestion in central London. The ULEZ might improve air quality in central London but it won’t in the outer areas.

“Areas such as Chingford are not as built up as inner London.”