The westward extension to London's congestion charge zone, which came into force today, will harm many of the country's SMEs, several industry groups have warned.From this morning (February 19th), Kensington, Chelsea, Knightsbridge, Notting Hill, Bayswater, Belgravia and Pimlico were all covered by the extended congestion charging zone and drivers wishing to motor through the areas will have to pay £8.However, the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) warned that the whole London congestion charging zone was damaging small businesses by increasing their costs.Steve Collie, the FSB's transport chairman, explained: "Many people now shop outside the zone so that they can load their cars with shopping without paying an extra £8 - shops inside the zone are hit hard. "Other FSB members making deliveries and tradesmen going to people's homes in the congestion charge zone are finding it hard to cover their costs."The organisation also warned that, if the London scheme is a test for a national initiative, SMEs throughout the UK would be hit."Any national scheme must be much more intelligent in its design and it must not penalise businesses in their essential use of the roads," he added.The Freight Transport Association (FTA) also said that commercial vehicles should have free access to the city to allow vital deliveries to be made."Commercial vehicles are the lifeblood of London and should have been excluded from the scheme from the very beginning in the same way as buses and taxis," explained the FTA's head of policy for London, Gordon Telling.© Adfero Ltd