London mayor Ken Livingstone has dropped his biggest hint yet that he is going to introduce a £5 charge for people to drive to Heathrow Airport.
The mayor hopes to reduce traffic around Heathrow Airport
He said the money raised would go towards the £100m needed to build the Crossrail link, which will connect the west London airport to the City via twin underground tunnels.
Speaking at his weekly press conference Mr Livingstone said Heathrow suffered the worst pollution outside central London, most of it caused by cars.
The toll would also deter people from getting family or friends to drop them off and pick them up, which he dubbed "kiss-and-fly".
"This is the death of kiss-and-fly because that will cost you £10 for the two journeys," he said.
"Heathrow is increasingly a business airport so the people can afford it."
About 45,000 passengers a day, 39% of the total, travel to Heathrow by private car.
A further 30,000 who arrive by taxi would be exempt from the toll as would the airport's 68,000 staff.
That Livingstone wants to charge people to say goodbye to loved ones is fundamentally wrong
Angie Bray, London Assembly Conservative spokeswoman
The mayor has said he would extend central London's congestion charge zone - an area in which you have to pay £5 to drive into - westwards to cover Kensington and Chelsea and the rest of Westminster, if he was re-elected in 2004.
But he said: "We could do Heathrow more quickly than west London, which has now slipped to Christmas 2005, because it will take longer than we thought to improve public transport."
The scheme would be much cheaper to install than the central London charge because enforcement cameras would only be needed on seven roads leading into the airport.
BAA, which operates Heathrow, has also been considering a toll because of concerns that local roads will be overwhelmed when Terminal 5 opens in 2007.
On Wednesday a spokesman for the mayor's office said: "This has been talked about for some time and is in the mayor's plans.
"But no firm decision has been made and no timetable set."
Angie Bray, London Assembly Conservatives congestion charge spokesman, said: "This is to do with raising money by taxing motorists who have no choice but to use their cars.
"The public transport links to Heathrow are inappropriate for many holiday makers with the Heathrow Express especially being very pricey.
"I also fail to see why Livingstone is so proud to say he will be ending what he calls "kiss and fly".
"That Livingstone wants to charge people to say goodbye to loved ones is fundamentally wrong."