Most hybrid and diesel vehicle drivers will start paying congestion charges in an effort by authorities to reduce traffic and pollution. London transport officials are enforcing tighter rules to lessen enthusiasm for cars that permit them free access to central London. The rule specifically affects the numerous diesels that emit more soot than petrol run cars.
The petrol-electric Toyota Pries, and the diesel fuelled Smart cars are just a few of around 50 “green” cars that will have to pay the £10 congestion charge, a move that will be enforced, if approved, in July and is projected to raise around £2 million a year, helping to offset £60 million reduction in revenues with the elimination of the western extension.
The move is upsetting motoring groups claiming that “green’ car owners will be on the losing end. AA president Edmund King said there is real concern about new green goals being revised after enormous amounts have been invested in green vehicles when there is a need to provide them even greater support.
About 70,000 cars pass through the congestion zone, of which 2,500 qualify for Greener Vehicle discounts because the carbon dioxide they emit less is than 100g/km. TfL wants this limit scrapped and replaced with much tougher 75g/km maximum scheme, which in effect rules out all diesel and hybrid cars currently in the road.
RAC’s technical director, David Bizley, is of the opinion that 75g/km scheme is a not within the capabilities of exiting hybrids, conventional diesels and petrol vehicles and only a sort of plug-in hybrid can actually qualify. By July discount applications will no longer be accepted although current discount holders will continue to enjoy the privilege until June of 2015.
Environmentalists dislike the current discount arrangements, but are not overjoyed about the new one either. Simon Birkett, Clean Air Director in London, observed that since the discount went into effect last January 2011, qualifying car models tripled with most releasing carcinogenic fumes. He said further that he doubts whether any CO2 reduction had been achieved at all and to make it worse the extra vehicles in the road have worsened congestion.