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London’s equestrian businesses and riders are preparing for the consequences of the capital’s new clean air laws.

From today (Monday, 4 February), drivers of older lorries will have to fit them with a £2,000 pollution filter or pay £200 a day to drive within London.

The Low Emission Zone (LEZ) is likely to hit families keeping horses at livery and wanting to travel to events, like members of the North West Kent Pony Club.

District commissioner Martin Wright said: “About 50% of our members stable horses within the LEZ and the other 50 will compete regularly within the zone.

“I cannot think of one horsebox belonging to a member which will comply with the new regulations.”

But Transport for London (TFL) will give drivers caught within the LEZ a month’s grace. If a non-conforming vehicle is found in the zone a letter will be sent to the owner telling them they can drive the vehicle within the LEZ for the next 28 days but then they must either pay a daily charge or adapt the lorry.

Many horse businesses within London have prepared for the regulations already. Kingston Riding Centre owner Joe Mastroianni has had his box converted.

But the charges will mean changes for some, like the Diamond Centre for Disabled Riders in Carshalton, which is half a mile within the zone.

The Diamond’s Angela Goldie said they may have to stop running their show jumping competitions, which raise funds for the centre.

“We often get a group of people from one yard coming together in a box. But they won’t come if they have to pay £200,” said Angela.

Caroline Stevenson of Wimbledon Village Stables says they have bought a new horsebox in order to comply with the LEZ but will have to cancel their sponsored ride, held every October, because people are unwilling to pay the charge to attend. But they hope their summer show in June will still go ahead.

The first vehicles to be affected by the LEZ include horse transporters weighing more than 12 tonnes first registered before October 2001. From July, the law will apply to those weighing between 3.5 and 12 tonnes unladen and manufactured before October 2001.

All horseboxes built before October 2006 will be affected from January 2012, as will some Land Rovers.

A TFL spokesman said: “London has the UK’s worst air pollution and some of the poorest in Europe.The LEZ aims to cut harmful emissions and improve air quality.”

To check where is affected, go to www.tfl.co.uk and you can enter the postcode into an on-line search

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound (31 January, ’08)