London Mayor Boris Johnson has confirmed the introduction of a new ‘Greener Vehicle Discount’ that will allow vehicles which emit 100g/km of CO2 or less to travel through the capital’s city centre without paying the congestion charge.
The mayor also confirmed that the Western Extension Zone of the charge would be scrapped by Christmas after a public consultation found that 62 per cent of people wanted it to be abolished.
The last charge day for the western extension will be Christmas Eve, with further changes to the capital’s congestion charge set to be introduced from January 4, 2011. While the extension will be removed, those travelling within the original charge zone will have to pay £9 per day, up from £8, from the first working day of the New Year.
A new automatic payment system (called CC Auto Pay) will make it easier to pay and help motorists avoid unnecessary fines. Those paying through the new system will pay £9 per day from the New Year while those using conventional payment methods will pay £10 a day if they pay in advance (or on the day) and £12 if paid the next charging day.
The mayor promised that the signs and road markings for the western zone charge will be ‘vanquished, annihilated and obliterated’ over the festive period.
Meanwhile the Alternative Fuel Discount will be discontinued and in its place the new Greener Vehicle Discount will be created to encourage a switch to much cleaner and more CO2 efficient cars. The old system of exemptions was criticised for automatically granting exemptions to hybrids even though some, such as those made by Lexus, produced above average emissions.
The new system means that some of the vehicles which previously qualified for exemption to the charge will now have to pay, while others, such as those running low CO2 emitting diesel cars, will qualify for the first time. To qualify, cars must emit 100g/km of CO2 or less and meet the Euro 5 standard for air quality while electric cars and plug-in hybrids will also travel charge-free.
As we campaigned for, the level at which the exemptions apply will be kept under review to stay ahead of technological developments. While the website wanted the exemption level to be set at 95g/km of CO2 or lower from the off, Transport for London(TfL), will monitor developments in the market and keep the discount criteria under review, with the intention of reducing the 100 per cent discount levels to 80g/km of CO2 or lower when the time is right. A review of the exemption criteria is already planned for 2012.