Page last updated at 13:52 GMT, Wednesday, 5 August 2009 14:52 UK

No C-charge plan for diesel cars

TFL to review congestion charge

Low-emission petrol and diesel cars would be allowed free entry to London's congestion charge zone under a plan by Transport for London (TfL).

Most drivers pay £8 a day to enter the C-charge zone, with drivers of electric and hybrid cars already exempt.

TfL has ordered a review examining whether more vehicles should become exempt based on their emissions.

A TfL spokeswoman said no changes would be made to the C-charge system until spring 2010 at the earliest.

Drivers of electric cars or vehicles with alternative fuels with strict emissions criteria - such as hybrid cars - are exempt from paying the C-charge.

But drivers of about 14,000 petrol or diesel cars in London which have lower emissions than the hybrid cars must currently pay the charge.

Since the charge was introduced, vehicle technology has moved on a lot
Transport for London

A TfL spokeswoman said it would review all the exemptions in place for the C-charge, introduced in London in 2003.

"The purpose of the congestion charge has always been to reduce congestion and traffic levels in central London," she said.

"However, since the charge was introduced, vehicle technology has moved on a lot which is why we are reviewing the grounds for exemptions and discounts within the scheme."

'Blunt instrument'

What Car? magazine editor Steve Fowler welcomed the review.

"Clearly if (the C-charge) is a pollution charge, it's not working properly," he said.

"If it's a congestion charge, you have only got to look on London's streets to see it's not really working either."

But the Campaign for Better Transport spokesman Richard George said: "We have to ask ourselves just one question - do we want there to be more cars in London than there are at the moment?"

He added: "If we let everybody driving a Nissan Micra or a VW Polo come in for free there will be more cars on the road and that means more congestion and more pollution.

"The congestion charge was always a fairly blunt instrument, so maybe we should be looking at whether hybrid cars should be allowed in rather than trying to encourage more drivers to drive in in greener cars."

TfL will submit its recommendations to Mayor Boris Johnson later this year.

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