Possible price hike for C-Charge gas guzzlers

Drivers of the most polluting cars could face paying over three times the current rate for London's congestion charge - and lose their exemption if they live within the boundaries of the chargeable zone.

As things are, the standard rate for entering the city centre zone is £8, with concessions for those who live within the zone or drive low-carbon vehicles such as hybrids.

This week London’s Mayor, Ken Livingstone, announced plans to increase the charge to £25 per day for cars which emit more than 225g of CO2 per kilometre and waive the charge for those which emit less than 120g.

Drivers of the big emitters who live within the boundaries would lose their concessions – potentially paying £25 for leaving their parking space.

In real terms, this means that smaller diesel hatchbacks could escape the charge whilst bigger gas guzzling 4x4s would be hit with the increased rate.

“Londoners are becoming increasingly aware of the need to tackle climate change and this summer’s floods were a reminder of the urgency with which we need to reduce C02 emissions,” said Mr Livingstone.

“The highest CO2 emitting cars – like some of the so-called Chelsea tractors, high powered sports cars and luxury executive cars – can produce twice as much carbon dioxide emissions as the kind of car driven by the average Londoner.

“By proposing these changes to the congestion charging scheme we are encouraging people to take into account the impact on the environment of their choice of car.

“We are already cleaning up London’s fleet of public vehicles through measures like the introduction of hybrid buses. These new proposals will tackle emissions from private vehicles, and ensure that London is leading the way in the fight against catastrophic climate change.”

Ground transport, including trains and trucks, accounts for almost a quarter of London’s CO2 emissions.

Emissions from private cars make up half of that.

The plans are now out for public consultation.

Sian Berry, the Green Party’s mayoral candidate, said she was backing the proposals.

“I completely support the principle of emissions-based congestion charging and have been campaigning for this for several years. I know that the vast majority of Londoners support the idea too.

“A survey conducted by Greenpeace and the Alliance Against Urban 4x4s found 85% in favour, and other polls repeatedly find the same kind of opposition to the use of highly polluting vehicles as city runabouts.

“I would urge everyone who want to see a cleaner, greener London to respond positively to the public consultation and help get these needlessly dirty vehicles off our streets.

“The fact is, there is no need at all to have a big gas-guzzling car in London. Everyone who feels they need to own a car has the choice to avoid the higher congestion charge by choosing a vehicle with lower emissions.

“Even 4×4 drivers can find a handful of smaller models that are in a lower band for vehicle duty, and therefore won’t have to pay the higher rate.

“Those who insist on driving big, wasteful gas-guzzlers should pay up for making our city more polluted and our roads less safe for everyone else.”

Sam Bond

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