Sunday, March 04, 2007

The spread of CO2-based parking rates

The decision earlier this year by Richmond Council to introduce differential parking rates based on vehicle fuel emissions has encouraged a string of other councils around Britain to follow suit.

A third of the British capital's 32 boroughs are now looking into similar schemes.Before the end of May, the local authority in Camden, north-west London will adopt the new parking measures. Camden is also encouraging owners of electric vehicles to charge their batteries with power generated from renewable energy sources by setting up free charging points around the borough. In addition, the boroughs of Kensington and Chelsea, Lambeth, Tower Hamlets, Barking and Dagenham, Haringey, Southwark, Brent and Hackney are set to vary parking permit prices on the basis of emissions.

The schemes will offer free parking for electric cars but would see up to a 200 percent increase on current rates for the most polluting vehicles such as gas-guzzling four-wheel drives.

Mayor Ken Livingstone, Prime Minister Tony Blair, and environmental minister David Milliband have all welcomed the initiatives as a local solution to help fight climate change.

The trend has also caught on outside the capital -- the seaside towns of Brighton and Hove agreed a 50 percent increase in the price of permits for the most polluting vehicles within a few months, taking it to £120. Importantly, the proceeds will be used to fund environmental projects, including green modes of transport, according to the council.

The city of Manchester has developed a green badge parking scheme, which allows drivers of eco-friendly vehicles to park in town at a significantly reduced rate.

York is also offering motorists an eco-friendly carrot in the shape of a 50 percent reduction in the cost of residential parking permits for small and less polluting cars.