The congestion charge will be waived for the cleanest vehicles and raised to £25 per day for the most polluting, including those owned by charge zone residents.
In early 2005, the Mayor asked Transport for London to investigate whether the congestion charge could be doubled from £5 to £10 to SUV/4x4 vehicles. The move was intended to address both environmental and safety concerns, after some US research showed that 11.5% of pedestrians hit by SUVs are killed, compared to 4.5% of pedestrians hit by smaller cars.
Such a proposal was not without precedent; Paris is actively pursuing a plan to deny SUVs parking permits in order to discourage their use.
Whilst TfL concluded that a rise in the charge specifically for 4x4s would be too difficult from an administrative view, the plan has changed so that instead, the most polluting cars would be charged more.
This means that the most polluting vehicles will be charged more regardless of class (e.g. some 4x4s, sports cars and people carriers will be affected). Conversely, there will also be various 4x4s, MPVs and sports cars that will not be charged extra.
In November 2006, the Mayor announced the go-ahead for a plan which would see bandings for the congestion charge based on the road tax (Vehicle Excise Duty, VED) bands:
The low-polluters' exemption will be introduced in 2008, whilst the high-polluters' high charge will be introduced in 2009. In addition, the residents' 90% discount on the charge will be withdrawn for vehicles in the polluting band G category, meaning a rise from £0.80 to £25 per day, a 3025% increase.
The Mayor indicated that this rise will affect the 5% of cars in Greater London that are the highest emitters - although the number of these vehicles within central London rises to 20%.
The Mayor has announced that from 2009, the congestion charge will rise to £25 for the most polluting vehicles (tax band G) whilst it will drop to zero for the cleanest vehicles (bands A and B) from 2008. The residents' discount will also be withdrawn for those most polluting vehicles.
Over 80% of more than 5000 people polled by Greenpeace outside Tube stations backed a proposal to quadruple the congestion charge the £20 for the most polluting vehicles - those emitting more than 250g of carbon dioxide or performing to under 25 miles per gallon. Such a category would hit large vehicles like the Land Rover Discovery or Range Rover Sport.
Greenpeace and the Alliance against Urban 4x4s are continuing their calls for a higher congestion charge price for the most polluting cars driven in the zone. Greenpeace propose that all cars emitting over 250g of CO2 per km or performing at under 25 mile per gallon are charged a congestion charge of £20.
The Alliance against Urban 4x4s has been targeting drivers of 4x4s on the school run in Belsize Park, north London, handing them mock school reports with an E grade.
Protestors from a group against 4x4 use in cities, the Alliance Against Urban 4x4s, have been putting mock parking tickets under the wipers of SUVs around South Kensington. The tickets are really leaflets about the safety record and environmental effects of increasing 4x4 use.
The Mayor has accepted the findings of a report by Transport for London into the feasibility of doubling the congestion charge for 4x4 or sports utility vehicles. TfL say that the C-charge system does not have the capability to detect these vehicles specifically and lobbying the government for extra taxes on 4x4s would be the best option.
Conservative transport spokeswoman for the capital, Angie Bray, has rejected calls to double the congestion charge for 4x4s or SUVs, while a poll by YouGov showed two-thirds of Londoners backed the proposal.
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