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Emission Based Parking Charges BY PETER GUEST

impact on the planet and use less pol- luting and more sustainable resources. Unfortunately in most cases this rhetoric is just that; long onwordswith no actions or actions that are so limp wristed that they are unlikely to be much more than a minor irritant to drivers with gas guzzlers. For example in the UK annual vehicle tax bands depend on the output level of pollution but for the worst polluters the charge is little more than a pound a day extra compared with a small family saloon.

T Forgive me but I do not think that someone who a) has and

b) is thinking about investing a six figure sumin a so called super car is going to really think again because horror-shock itwill cost a £1 a daymore to run than aToyota Prius. In 2007 the London Borough of Richmond took the first

steps in applying the same logic to how it charged its residents to park in the street.A new scheme was introduced which set the charge for a resident’s park- ing permit according to the government’s banding for annual road tax. Thus a super “clean” carwhich pro- duced less than 100 gm of CO2 per km could have a free permitwhereas themost polluting vehicles paid £450 a year for the same privilege. Now historically any

attempt to raise residents’ (aka voter) parking charges to even a cost recovery level was political suicide but sur- prisingly this initiative has survived and three years on seems to be generally accepted by Richmond’s environmentally aware electorate. There is however no figures published which would suggest that the average car owned by the good citizens of Richmond has become less pollut- ing as a result of this initiative. Richmond has now gone one better and introduced a “Rich-

HERE IS A LOT OF TALK about the use of cars and pollu- tion andmany stirring state- ments about how we must reduce our

allows drivers of mid-range vehicles to get a 25% discount by using the card, effectively taking them back to the old status quo and for people with super clean cars, i.e. with emission levels below 120g/km there is a further discount of 50% off the old charge. So in principle everyone could pay a lot more but the “good guys” with less polluting cars can get a hefty discount. Looking at the way the system operates I can see some

Someone who is thinking about investing a six figure sum in a so called super car is not going to think again because it will cost a £1 a day more to run than a Toyota Prius.

issues which could get drivers into difficulties. The card is issued to a driver with the vehicle licence plate and emission level encoded, so far so good but the card does not appear to have this infor- mation printed in a human readable form. Therefore the chances

of picking up the wrong card in house with multiple vehicle owners must be an issue. Unfortunately the card will cause the vehicle registration plate to be printed on the ticket so if a driver uses the wrong card and pays themoney is lost. Next the card can

have money added by either putting the card in a pay and dis- play and then paying cash into themachine or returning the card to the council who will top it up and return it “within seven working days”. Both these options for keeping the system working seem

mond Card” to pay for all parking both on and off street. The Richmond Card is a smart card which stores information about the owner’s vehicle registration and its government emission band and when the user buys parking the level of charge levied varies according to the vehicle’s details. What the Borough has actually done is to raise all parking charges by 25% to set a new standard charge. The system then


unnecessarily clumsy.At a pay and display machine a card can only topped upwith coins and I cannot see toomany people stand at the machine and feeding in up to £25 in coins to add credit to the card, just so it can be taken off again to pay for parking. For- tunately the card can be used simply as a vehicle identifier and paymentsmade by cash or credit card; I think that this is likely to be themost common way of using the card The seven day “top up and return” option just seems a

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