The majority of Autocar readers live outside London and, as a keen driver or automotive enthusiast, you are in the best place.
The capital has long been the home of the nuttiest and most damaging traffic schemes ever seen in the UK and Europe. Today’s barking outburst comes from our old friend Ken Livingstone, author of the hopeless C-Charge scheme and probably the first politician to significantly reduce the amount of road space in the UK since Boudicca flattened Colchester, London and St Albans in AD60.
Talking to the London Evening Standard today, Livingstone, surprisingly, admits that he won’t be re-extending the Congestion Charge after Mayor Boris Johnson scrapped the Western Extension Zone at the end of last year.
However, his pet project of charging ‘gas guzzlers’ £25 per day to enter the central C-Charge zone would be reinstated. He told the paper "We'll be straight back for that [the £25 charge] because we now know that at least 4,000 people die a year prematurely because of our poor air quality. We're running the risk of an EU fine and the Government has a clause in the Localism Bill that if the EU levies the fine it will be transferred to London council-tax payers." Can anybody spot the deliberate mistake? It’s obvious, of course. Kenneth is suggesting Co2 emissions cause ‘poor quality’.
In fact, the EU regulations are concerned with particulates and Nitrogen Oxides, both of which are felt to be dangerous to human health and come, in the main, from the exhausts of heavy diesel vehicles.
Before the 2008 Mayoral election, Livingstone’s £25 charge was to be aimed at any vehicle emitting over 225g/km of Co2. The £25 charge is, of course, really aimed at drivers swanning around in Range Rovers and Mercedes limos and has nothing to do with air quality.
London’s Black cab fleet would be exempt from the £25 charge despite being both over the 225g/km limit and being responsible for around 25 percent of the pavement-side pollution in central London.
The only way to reduce pollution is to take radical steps. Last January, all diesel vehicles registered before January 2006 were banned from central Berlin. We could also fit roadside pollution sensors to target the individual most polluting vehicles.
Of course, the C-Charge zone is small and very few of us ever drive into it. But it’s depressing that a politician with such potential influence is either incredibly badly informed or willing to try and deceive the public with bogus environmental claims.