Changes in taxation proposed by the Alliance
The Alliance Against Urban 4x4s is calling for higher rates of tax and higher congestion charges and parking fees for urban 4x4s and other high-emission vehicles.
Of course we recognise that farmers and others who need a 4x4 for their work should be exempt from the highest rates of tax, and this should be built into any new legislation.
Changes to GVED
One of the simplest ways to introduce incentives for people not to buy unnecessary 4x4s would be to extend the current bands of Graduate Vehicle Excise Duty (GVED or 'Road Tax').
GVED bands are currently based on emissions of carbon dioxide (for newer vehicles) or engine size (for older vehicles). However, the difference between the highest and lowest tax bands is just £300 and the government's own research has shown that GVED does not go far enough to affect people's choice of car.
The introduction of a new Band G, for cars built since 2001 emitting more than 225 g/km of carbon dioxide, came with a derisory £45 per year increase above the old Band F, and has since been increased to £300 - a £95 a year premium. At these rates, GVED will make no difference to promoting cleaner cars, and the Chancellor knows it.
The Alliance Against Urban 4x4s proposes that that the difference between GVED bands for new cars should be at least £150,and preferably as much as £300, with a top rate around £1,000 or more.
This would go a long way to encourage people to choose alternative cars with smaller engines, and would also help people who do buy a 4x4 to choose a cleaner model.
Sign our petition to support our proposal.
Many independent agencies and environmental groups have recently called for similar changes to the system of GVED, including:
MPs from all parties are also adding their signatures to an Early Day Motion in Parliament, put forward by Norman Baker MP, Liberal Democrat Shadow Environment Secretary (contact your MP to urge them to sign up too, via our 'What you can do' page.)
Here is the text of the Government's reponse to our Downing Street petition on road tax in 2007 - this shows they have not yet understood that changing driver's choices needs a much bigger incentive than their tax rates currently provide.
"The existing structure of Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) rates already includes differentials between higher and lower emissions cars. This system of CO2 emissions graduated VED was introduced in 2001, and applies to cars registered from 1 March 2001 onwards.
The very lowest emissions cars are in fact eligible for a zero rate, and the next least emitting currently pay between £15-35 depending on the environmental benefits of their fuel type. In contrast the most polluting cars currently now pay between £285-300, increasing to £385-400 next year. These rates were brought into affect as part of the package of changes to VED for cars introduced by the Chancellor in Budget 2007.
The Government has always been clear that VED provides an important source of Government revenues to fund public services, and that graduated by CO2 emissions graduated VED for cars provides a signal to motorists of the environmental impacts of their potential choice - the fact is that others are following the Government's 2001 lead in setting that signal.
It remains the case that local measures to encourage cleaner vehicle choices are outside the direct influence of central government and are for local authorities to determine. However, it is recognised that such measures can help to amplify the signal that the Government has set."
Which brings us to local measures...
A higher Congestion Charge in London - success, but new Mayor cancels it!
In Central London, all but the cleanest cars pay a fixed charge of £8 per day to enter the Congestion Charging Zone (this was recently increased from £5).
The congestion charge was brought in to reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality and has been a success, with a 19% reduction in traffic and a 12% reduction in nitrous oxide and particulate emissions in the zone.
But the number of big 4x4s in London threatens to undo all the good work done by the charge so far, and the Alliance Against Urban 4x4s believes that highly polluting vehicles, including big 4x4s, should pay more.
We proposed that any car that emits more than 250 g/km of carbon dioxide should pay a daily Congestion Charge of £20.
In July 2006, Mayor Ken Livingstone announced plans for an even higher rate of £25 for cars in Band G, along with discounts for cleaner cars. These plans went to public consultation in autumn 2006, and were officially confirmed in February 2008.
We know that there is huge public support for a higher Congestion Charge for the most polluting cars
On Saturday 26th February 2005, more than 100 members of the Alliance Against Urban 4x4s and Greenpeace were out in central London polling members of the public for their opinion.
Of 5,494 people polled, 85% agreed with the statement, "4x4s and other gas-guzzlers should pay a higher Congestion Charge than cars with smaller engines."
When other cities adopt congestion charging in response to their traffic problems, measures to charge the most polluting cars more should be implemented from the start.
Higher parking fees - some local successes!
Many areas have zones dedicated to 'residents only' parking. Another way of discouraging people from buying big 4x4s would be to impose higher fees to register for a residents' parking permit for certain models.
This has the great advantage of automatically selecting vehicles that are mainly used in town, and is already being introduced by North Sydney Council in Australia.
Members of the Alliance Against Urban 4x4s in Manchester conducted a poll in the city centre in March 2005 and found that 83% of people supported the idea of double parking charges for urban 4x4s. Read report
Richmond Council in London pioneered plans to introduce higher rates for parking permits for highly polluting cars.
In June 2007, Islington Council held a borough-wide referendum to decide on whether to introduce a similar scheme, and the result was 56% in favour.
The first council in London to actually bring in this scheme was Camden, in August 2007.
With these successes, make sure you set up a local campaign to get your council to do the same! Get in touch with us for help and advice.