Call for £20 C-Charge on gas-guzzlers

Last edited 26 February 2005 at 9:00am
26 February, 2005

Campaigners against so-called Chelsea Tractors are calling for the London congestion charge to be raised to £20 for gas-guzzling cars. Hundreds of members of Greenpeace and the Alliance Against Urban 4x4s are hitting Goodge street today to lobby Londoners on the new proposal, while the groups have hung a huge banner across Marylebone High street that says: "CHARGE 4x4s £20".

Monday sees the end of Transport for London's consultation on their proposal to increase the charge from £5 to £8. But the Alliance and Greenpeace want it raised to £20 for 4x4s and other high-emission vehicles to reflect the damage they do to the environment.

The groups are lobbying the public in twelve boroughs from noon with Greenpeace and Alliance members planning to speak to thousands of Londoners by the end of the day.

The Alliance hit the headlines last year when its members slapped fake parking tickets on 4x4s and picketed school runs in the capital. The tickets - which many drivers thought were genuine - accused SUV owners of making a poor vehicle choice. Now the group has joined Greenpeace to call for a higher charge for vehicles which do less than 25 miles per gallon or emit more than 250g of CO2 per kilometre. Vehicles caught under the proposed scheme would include the Land Rover Discovery and the new Range Rover Sport.

Sian Berry of the Alliance said: "Vehicle owners must take full responsibility for the choices they make. If they insist on buying an urban four-wheel drive, they need to pay more for that choice, and a £20 congestion charge would do that. Gas-guzzlers like a Land Rover Discovery emit four times as much climate changing pollution as the most fuel efficient family cars on the market. The increasing use of big 4x4s in London threatens to undo all the good that the congestion charge has done in reducing traffic and improving our air quality and quality of life. The children being ferried around in these monsters today will have to pay for the effects of climate change tomorrow."

Mark Strutt of Greenpeace said: "Climate change is already killing tens of thousands every year, but some of those who profess to care about global warming drive around London in gas-guzzlers. Most of these 4x4s have seen less off-road action than the average milk float, but the CO2 they throw into the atmosphere is contributing to the gravest threat this planet faces. A £20 charge would make the cost of driving inefficient vehicles reflect the damage they do. London is one of the most progressive cities in the world, so let's lead the world by driving gas-guzzlers off our streets."

The Land Rover Discovery only does 12 miles per gallon in the city, compared to the European Car of the year, the Toyota Prius, which does over 55 miles per gallon. Land Rover's parent company Ford has the technological know-how to make vehicles which would be far better for the climate, but instead concentrates its efforts on making and marketing even more gas-guzzling SUVs.

Mark Strutt added: "The congestion charge has led to a 19 percent drop in greenhouse gas emissions in the zone and we want to see this tremendous result extended."

Photo and video footage available. For more information contact Greenpeace and the Alliance on 0207 865 8255 / 07801 212967

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