A dad-of-five has said the Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) could do “irreversible damage” to his business.

Paul Castle, 52, lives in Sidcup and owns a small catering company, Elegance and Candy, based in central London, which he started in 2014.

Mr Castle last year bought a van for nearly £10,000, borrowing money from his dad as his business began to expand.

When the ULEZ comes into force in Central London on April 19 he will be forced to pay a daily £12.50 charge or buy a vehicle which meets certain emission standards.

Mr Castle said: “I wasn’t aware of the ULEZ at all last April when I bought the van.

“I didn’t know I was buying a vehicle that wasn’t fit for purpose.

“I think the whole thing is badly set up.”

Mr Castle has five children, two of whom still live at home.

He raises them by himself following the death of his wife Annette in 2010, putting even more pressure on him to earn enough to support his family.

Although Mayor of London Sadiq Khan last year announced a £23 million diesel scrappage scheme for small business to help them swap their vehicles to meet ULEZ emissions standards Mr Castle said this “does not go far enough”.

Under the scheme those wishing to swap their current vehicle to an electric van are entitled to £6,000 and those wishing to scrap their diesel polluting vehicle are entitled to £3,500.

But Mr Castle paid nearly £10,000 for his van last year and said the amount the schemes are offering will not match what he paid for the vehicle.

He said: “If I can’t get back the money I paid for my van it could do irreversible damage to my business.

“If I had to pay £12.50 everyday then I would be forced to pass that cost onto my customers, and that would make me less competitive and cause problems.

“I am in an absolute quandary. If I fall into the trap of paying the emission charges I am not contributing to cleaning up the planet and if I sell my van I am compromising the essence of the scheme.”

Mr Castle also said bigger companies who drive through the zone should be forced to pay a higher price, rather than making smaller companies fork out.

Alex Williams, Transport for London’s director of city planning, said the ULEZ will “significantly reduce” pollution in central London.

Mr Williams also said the ULEZ was first proposed five-years ago and that the communication campaign around it was increased last year.

He added: “The Mayor’s £23 million diesel scrappage scheme is only available to micro businesses in order to provide them a further incentive to replace their oldest, most polluting vans and upgrade to cleaner options.”