Mayor's charge to hit 4X4 drivers

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The Independent Online

The Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, declared war on the owners of gas-guzzling cars yesterday when he revealed a plan to charge them £25 to enter the capital's congestion charge zone.

The proposals would mean that anyone driving a car in the excise band G with CO2 emissions above 225g per km would have to pay the top charge.

The 90 per cent residents' discount for those living within the congestion charging area would be scrapped for those with cars in the G band.

The current £8 charge would be levied on vehicles in bands C, D, E and F, with CO2 emissions between 120g and 225g per km.

Vehicles in bands A or B with less than 120g CO2 per km would pay nothing and could be in line for the zero-rating from 2008.

Mr Livingstone plans to introduce the new levy by 2009 or 2010, but has asked his transport authority, Transport for London, if this could begin earlier. All the proposals are to go out for consultation.

Mr Livingstone said most vehicles that would be charged £25 were higher-priced models. "Those who buy them can afford to choose from the whole of the mainstream car market, but have chosen to buy one of the most polluting vehicles," he said.

Christopher Macgowan, the chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers, accused Mr Livingstone of launching a "war against the affluent". He said: "Families that need people carriers and estate cars, but who already pay the penalty through higher road tax and fuel costs, are set to be hit by the Mayor's triple whammy."