Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Boris Johnson and London's Congestion Charge

Boris Johnson, London’s new mayor, announced yesterday that he would not implement his predecessor’s plan for a two-tier congestion charge based upon fuel consumption. The current charge, applied in central London between the hours of 7am and 6pm on weekdays, is £8 a day. The proposal was to raise this to £25 for gas-guzzling vehicles and I argued (February 27th) that this was a misuse of a system designed to control congestion. Porsche had also mounted a legal challenge, alleging among other things that the policy was counterproductive insofar as it encouraged people to drive around central London rather than straight through it.

I am not sure I agree with Porsche’s argument, and I am not entirely happy being on the same side as Boris, but I think this is the right decision for reasons expressed in my earlier post. Greenhouse gas emissions need to be addressed at national level – indeed at an international level – rather than in a few square miles of one city.

Perhaps I should ad that I am very much in favor of the original congestion charge which will remain. (Actually I think it should not have been extended to the more residential areas to the west of the city, which I think has been counterproductive for reasons that do not concern us here but that is an entirely different argument.)

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