Councillors have raised concerns that the roll-out of tougher air quality standards could hit some drivers with hefty travel bills.

The expansion of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) – designed to cut the levels of harmful air pollution – means people who regularly travel across the North Circular road could face a daily charge of £12.50.

This could push up travel costs significantly for people who cross the highway, which runs through the south of the borough, while commuting or taking their children to school.

Those affected will tend to be people using older vehicles – cars that run on petrol and were registered with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency after 2005 tend to meet the standards, meaning they will be exempt from the charge.

Most diesel vehicles registered after September 2015 will also be exempt.

The ULEZ is being rolled out in central London from April 8 and there are plans to expand it to the North and South Circular roads by October 2021.

Chairman of Barnet Council’s environment committee Cllr Dean Cohen will write to the Mayor of London asking for further consideration of the impact of the ULEZ on families with older vehicles of six or more seats.

Councillors agreed the measure at a meeting of the committee on Monday (January 21), following an update on the council’s efforts to boost air quality.

Jamie Blake, Barnet Council’s strategic director of environment, said: “The ULEZ will have a significant effect on the borough, especially for residents whose daily lives take them across the North Circular on regular business.

“If their cars do not meet the standards set out in the legislation from the Mayor of London, they will incur daily charges of £12.50.”

Labour environment spokesman Cllr Alan Schneiderman questioned whether the Conservative group was in favour of the ULEZ, claiming Tory councillors had backed the scheme in the past.

Committee chair Cllr Dean Cohen said: “I am against the fact that people’s lives will be severely affected over the dividing line and it will push cars to where there is no zone and cause more pollution.”

Cllr Peter Zinkin, Conservative member for Childs Hill, added: “The Conservative group is entirely in favour of improved air quality and has no particular problem the ULEZ – providing it is introduced in a way that benefits residents.”

The annual air quality report details a range of measures that have recently been taken to combat pollution, including the roll-out of electric vehicle charging points and ‘floating’ car clubs.

Barnet Council also plans to plant 4,500 trees over the next five years and is targeting pollution hot spots and areas around schools.

Some 7.6 per cent of premature deaths in Barnet can be attributed to air pollution, according to the report.

During the meeting, Cllr Schneiderman tabled amendments to study the impact of car idling – leaving the engine running while the vehicle is stationary – and to ask the government to support the Mayor of London’s diesel scrappage fund.

The committee agreed to the suggestion to look into the action other boroughs are taking on idling, but Conservative members voted down Cllr Schneiderman’s second proposal.