Luxury cars to be charged £25 tax under Britain's first pollution tax
UK Daily Mail | August 6, 2007
Owners of "gas guzzling" cars are to be hit by Britain's first pollution charge, with a tax of £25 a day to drive in to city centres.
Already, drivers of vehicles with higher carbon emissions pay more for their vehicle excise duty tax disc. But now people carriers, luxury saloons and 4x4s are to be targeted with an emissions-based charge.
Smaller cars and hybrid electric-petrol vehicles such as the Toyota Prius, which emit 120 grams of less of carbon dioxide per kilometre, will be exempt.
The Government's new Local Transport Bill includes a clause saying that any council considering introducing a new "pay-as-you-drive" scheme must take account of environmental factors.
Labour's London mayor Ken Livingstone is this week expected to announce plans for a £25-a-day charge for bigger cars to be introduced in February.
The levy will be watched closely by at least ten other cities considering their own congestion charges, including Cardiff, Birmingham, Manchester and Cambridge. Drivers entering Manchester are expected to pay at least £5 a day from 2012.
London's congestion charge was introduced in 2003 to cut traffic, but has become less effective. Congestion fell by almost a third in its first year but is now only eight per cent below pre-charging levels.
The charge now appears to be being transformed into an environmental tax which will serve as a model for other schemes across the country.
A proposed nationwide road pricing scheme - in which drivers will be charged for every mile they drive - is also expected to take into account the amount of carbon dioxide vehicles emit.
Already a number of councils have introduced higher charges for residents' parking permits for cars with higher emissions. Richmond-upon-Thames has tripled of the cost of permits for cars in Band G - those with carbon dioxide emissions above 225g per kilometre.
Under the proposals in London, thousands of drivers of larger vehicles living inside the congestion charge zone will be the biggest loses. Currently, they are entitled to a discount of 90 per cent but in future they are expected to have to pay the full rate.
That would mean a driver using a large car inside the zone - such as a so-called "Chelsea Tractor" - would pay £6,500 a year.
Mr Livingstone has condemned people who 'can afford to choose from pretty much the whole of the mainstream car market but have chosen to buy one of the most polluting vehicles'.
A Transport for London spokesman said: "We are encouraging people to take into account the impact of their choice of car on climate change."
But Edmund King, executive director of the RAC Foundation, said: "The objective was meant to be reducing congestion, but now the goalposts are being changed and you have to question whether motorists are getting value for money."
Citroën, which has 23 models each generating less than 120g/km, would benefit the most.
A spokesman said: "Customers will no longer have to buy an electric car or even a small car to avoid charges. Low emission engines mean family-sized models like the C4 are exempt."
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