The last 48 hours have been pivotal for the UK’s motorists.

In the North West, a televised debate raged over the arguments for the planned Greater Manchester congestion zone.

A region-wide vote on the plans to use road tolls to cross-subsidise an expanded public transport system takes place on 11 December.

And this morning London Mayor Boris Johnson announced plans to scrap the western extension of the Congestion Charge.

The western extension has been highly controversial in the capital. A local referendum rejected the idea, but then-mayor Ken Livingstone installed it anyway, despite predictions it would not financially break even for a decade.

In truth, throwing a spy-camera loop around wealthy Kensington and Chelsea was the first step in introducing a £25 per day charge for anybody rash enough to have a car emitting over 225g CO2 per kilometer.

Cynics, including me, wondered why CO2 emissions in Conservative-voting Chelsea would be much more damaging than CO2 emissions in Labour-voting and C-charge exempt Hampstead.

And don’t believe the hype about ‘air quality’. It’s nitrogen oxides and particulates from thrashed diesel engines that cause health-damaging pollution, not petrol-powered Porsche Cayennes.

But new mayor Johnson stopped the £25 per day ‘gas-guzzler’ charge and will now kill the western extension in 2010.

It’s now clear that the battle to add tolls to the motorist’s burden is a critical point.

If Manchester throws the plan out, we may have seen the high-tide of tolling in the UK. Or, at least until the economy recovers.