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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 January 2007, 15:57 GMT
Higher parking charges 'unfair'
Row of high performance vehicles
The policy was approved after a three-hour meeting
A decision to charge higher parking prices for high-polluting vehicles has been branded "unfair" to large families by a motoring organisation.

The Automobile Association (AA) said Richmond Council's move contradicted the parking permit system that was designed to protect residents.

A family with two high polluting cars could pay up to 750 a year - three times the normal parking fees.

Meanwhile London mayor Ken Livingstone applauded the council's plans.

Families with two cars that emit high levels of carbon dioxide currently pay 200-a-year for parking permits.

Climate change is such a serious issue that all public authorities will have to put this at the top of the agenda
London mayor Ken Livingstone

AA spokesman Paul Watters said: "Richmond's attack on 'gas-guzzlers' has hidden the fact that many of these cars are large family estates and people carriers needed to get children to school, leisure activities and journey out of town.

"Hitting families with huge increases in parking permit charges and giving them no time to plan, budget and buy alternatives is not an environmental move, it's a tax-raising exercise."

But Richmond Council's Councillor David Trigg said the plans gave plenty of time for families to plan, budget and buy alternatives because they are able to buy two-year permits at the current rate until the new charges come into force.

"We have made it absolutely clear from the outset that this is not about raising tax and we have made it absolutely clear that our aim is revenue neutral."

He added that the council will be reviewing the policy in a year's time.

Legal challenge

But Mr Livingstone said Richmond had made a "brave decision" to introduce emission-based parking charges.

"Climate change is such a serious issue that all public authorities will have to put this at the top of the agenda," he said.

"London is taking a lead, both nationally and internationally, with the announcement of such a series of measures but we need to see more councils taking bold decisions like Richmond."

The policy, which was passed after a three-hour meeting of the council on Monday night, should be in place by May.

Mr Watters said a legal challenge to the decision is being awaited.

Parking hike for high polluters
30 Jan 07 |  London
Higher parking charges approved
24 Jan 07 |  London
Parking hike for polluting cars
05 Jan 07 |  London

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