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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 January 2007, 06:29 GMT
Residents back 'gas guzzlers' bid
By Roger Harrabin
Environment analyst, BBC News

Petrol pump
A narrow majority of people voted for the parking permit scheme
Residents in part of south-west London have backed a controversial scheme to charge the owners of so-called gas guzzling cars more for parking permits.

Jaguars, Mercedes or 4x4s in Richmond would incur three times the normal parking fee, while a family with two large cars could pay up to 750.

In a survey of residents, a narrow majority voted for the scheme, linking parking permit costs to car emissions.

The leader of Richmond Council, Serge Lourie, was "delighted" by the results.

If policies like this are to have a real effect in the long term then everyone must adopt them
Leader of Richmond Council, Serge Lourie

The idea generated fierce debate when it was published last October.

The local authority's survey showed 49% supported the plan, with 39% opposed - although a majority thought the extra charges for second car permits were "too punitive".

Mr Lourie, said: "I am particularly encouraged by the fact that 64% have indicated that they would be prepared to take practical action and switch to a less polluting vehicle - this is hugely significant.

"These proposals were always going to spark a fierce debate. We have never had any illusions about that fact.

"Climate change is the single most important issue facing our world today.

"We have since been hugely encouraged by indications from other authorities and the Mayor of London, that they intended to introduce similar schemes.

"If policies like this are to have a real effect in the long term then everyone must adopt them."

Those with more than one car would have to pay 50% more for extra permits.

There would also be a sliding scale of charges for parking permits based on the government's car tax bands.

Committee scrutiny

But, significantly, the poll suggests two out of three residents would consider changing to a cleaner car to avoid the higher charges.

This would mean less revenue for the council, but lower levels of greenhouse gases.

Richmond's proposals differ from Chancellor Gordon Brown's transport taxes, which have made money for the Exchequer without reducing emissions.

The proposals will now be considered by Richmond Council's Overview and Scrutiny committee on 24 January, before going to cabinet on 29 January for a final decision.

If they receive the necessary support, the new rules are expected to be in place within three months, said Mr Lourie.




SEE ALSO
Sir Menzies wins crunch tax vote
19 Sep 06 |  UK Politics
Brown targets polluting vehicles
22 Mar 06 |  Business
Cameron to target car emissions
24 Apr 06 |  UK Politics

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