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London Congestion Tax Used to Punish SUVs, Sports Car Owners
Commuters into London, UK who drive an SUV or a sport or luxury car will face a daily $47 congestion tax beginning in 2009.

Congestion tax
London, UK Mayor Ken Livingstone announced today that he will use his congestion tax program to discourage sport utility vehicles or "Chelsea Tractors" by charging owners £25 (US $47) every time they enter the city during peak travel periods, beginning in 2009. The move also affects owners of sports cars like the Porsche 911 and luxury cars like the Roll-Royce Phantom, Jaguar X-Type and BMW 335i. Livingstone will also eliminate for owners of affected vehicles the 90 percent congestion charge discount previously given to all local residents.

"Chelsea tractors, many of which are responsible for some of the highest CO2 emissions of any cars on our roads, have to be dealt with," Livingstone said during Mayor's question time in July.

Livingstone's plan is designed around government classification of emissions levels from "Vehicle Excise Duty Band A" to "Band G". Cars such as the Honda Insight and Toyota Prius classified in bands A and B will face no tax, while bands C through F will pay the current £8 (US $15) rate. Cars such as the Ford Mondeo 2 liter sedan are classified band G and will pay the new £25 (US $47) tax upon entry into the city.

"Those who buy [sport/luxury cars and SUVs] can afford to choose from pretty much the whole of the mainstream car market but have chosen to buy one of the most polluting vehicles," Livingstone said in a statement today.

"This move reveals that the London Congestion Charge is nothing more than a con," said Paul Smith, founder of the Safe Speed road safety campaign. "Ken Livingstone is clearly using his so-called congestion charge in order to impose his personal ideology on Londoners. He's tried to con everyone. The congestion charge has made millions, scared away trade and increased pollution, but it has not reduced congestion."

Livingstone is pressing Transport for London to introduce the £25 tax even before the current 2009 start date. Lib-Dem Richmond upon Thames Council members have also proposed a similar tripling the cost of resident parking permits for owners of band G vehicles.

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