Ken Livingstone has given the go-ahead to a new £25 a day charge for owners of the most polluting vehicles who take their vehicle into the Congestion Charge zone.
The new charge will apply to all vehicles in the Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) Band G whilst cars in Bands A and B will receive a 100 per cent discount.
The Mayor’s office say the intention is to encourage those who drive into London to to use less polluting cars.
Figures issued by City Hall suggest 17 per cent of cars currently driven in the Congestion Charge zone are Band G and would be liable for the new charge.
Announcing the formal go-ahead of the scheme Mayor Livingstone, said: “The CO2 emissions from the most high powered 4x4s and sports cars can be up to four times as great of those of the least polluting cars.”
“The CO2 charge will encourage people to switch to cleaner vehicles or public transport and ensure that those who choose to carry on driving the most polluting vehicles help pay for the environmental damage they cause. This is the ‘polluter pays’ principle. At the same time, the 100 per cent discount we are introducing for the lowest CO2 emitting vehicles will give drivers in London an incentive to use the least polluting cars available.”
Today’s announcement has been welcomed by Green party Mayoral candidate Siân Berry who attended this morning’s City Hall press conference. Ms Berry said she looked “forward to seeing these measures finally doing something positive to reduce dirty, wasteful, unnecessarily large 4x4s and other highly polluting cars from our streets.”
However there’s been criticism of the scheme from Mr Livingstone’s other Mayoral rivals and campaign groups.
London First, which backed the original Congestion Charge scheme said: “This is just daft – we know this is election year, but encouraging gridlock in the centre of London is no vote winner.”
“Band A and B cars don’t reduce CO2, they add to it. And they add to congestion which drives up CO2 emissions from the vehicles stuck in the queue behind them. The Mayor’s policy on congestion is in tatters.”
Conservative Mayoral candidate Boris Johnson said the Mayor’s own figures showed there would be “no change in congestion and no change in air quality. Londoners may ask – well what is the point?”
“Londoners use their cars because of the appalling state of the transport system. A big car tax won’t change that. We need better alternatives to get out of our cars – especially those who live in the outer boroughs with bigger families, many of whom can’t afford to swap cars.”
Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor, Brian Paddick has also criticised the scheme, saying: “What Ken Livingstone is proposing is an emissions charge and it will do nothing to tackle congestion. Those who can afford Chelsea tractors, can afford a £25 ride into London. Allowing small vehicles to enter the zone will only add to congestion and bring London to a halt.”
One London Party Mayoral candidate Damian Hockney accused Mr Livingstone of “turning London into a rip-off city”. Mr Hockney said he was pledged “to abolish the western extension” of the Congestion Charge.
He also promised that the charge would “be payable by Oyster card at a reduced rate, with added incentives for drivers in the c-charge zone to switch to public transport. Ultimately the c-charge should be phased out altogether, but it is unrealistic to expect this to be achieved in a single term. This is part of my pledge to end Ken’s war on the motorist.”