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Diesel cars could lose congestion charge exemption

Proposals to tighten emissions criteria could see many drivers of diesel, hybrid and low-emission cars being forced to pay the full congestion charge in London

The emissions criteria for greener vehicles that receive congestion charge discounts are set to be tightened under Transport for London proposals.

The proposed changes could see many drivers of vehicles currently eligible for discounts being forced to pay the full charge as they would no longer meet required standards for carbon dioxide emission levels.

congestion charge

Many diesel and hybrid vehicles could lose their congestion charge discounts under TfL proposals

The penalty charge would also be increased from £120 to £130 and it will no longer be possible to pay the charge in shops and petrol stations.

TfL is currently consulting on the proposals, which would scrap new registrations for Greener and Electric Vehicle Discounts in favour of the new Ultra Low Emission Discount from July 1 2013.

After this date, all electric vehicles, cars and vans (light goods vehicles not exceeding 3.5 tonnes gross vehicle weight) which emit 75g/km of carbon dioxide or less and meet the EU Euro 5 standard for air quality, would qualify for a 100% discount from the congestion charge if they are registered with TfL.

However, diesel vehicles and many hybrid vehicles would not meet these emissions criteria and would therefore no longer be exempt from the congestion charge. Many are eligible under the current Greener Vehicle Discount, which sets emissions criteria for vehicles at 100g/km of carbon dioxide.

Increasing vehicle numbers

According to TfL, the number of qualifying vehicle models has tripled since the Greener Vehicle discount was introduced in January 2011, while a greater number of vehicles with even lower emissions levels are now available on the market.

The TfL consultation states: “The number of vehicles able to meet the Greener Vehicle Discount criteria is constantly growing, and without a tightening of the emissions criteria, there could be a significant increase in the numbers of vehicles within the congestion charging zone. This would add to traffic congestion, increasing overall emissions of CO2 and air pollutants, which would undermine the purpose of the discount.”

Nick Fairholme, TfL’s director for congestion charging, said: “We are pleased with the number of responses we have received to the consultation so far but I want to encourage as many people as possible to submit their views on these proposed changes.

“We do listen to our customers and have made significant changes to the scheme in recent years, including the removal of the Western Extension and the introduction of Congestion Charging (CC) Auto Pay, as a result of listening to these views.”

Should the Mayor decide to proceed with the proposals, drivers of greener vehicles would not be able to apply for a congestion charge discount after June 28 2013.

Discounts for electric vehicles would also close on June 28 2013, although electric vehicles would automatically still be eligible for discount under the new proposals.

Drivers will have to pay an annual £10 fee to renew their congestion charge discount.

Owners of vehicles already registered for the Greener Vehicle Discount would continue to receive the 100% discount for their car for a further two years, until 26 June 2015.

TfL’s consultation on the proposals ends on February 8 2013. More information on the consultation and proposals is available on the TfL website.

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