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Dropping your child off at school? That'll be £75... just to park

Borough sparks fury and accusations of targeting mums and children with its plans to charge cars at school gates

Councils plan to charge parents up to £75 a year for parking permits allowing them to drop their children off on the school run.

A pilot project in the London borough of Richmond upon Thames starts in September, affecting 13 schools, and the Local Government Association says similar schemes are likely to be extended across the country.

In Richmond, where the plans have already drawn fire from families and motoring organisations, the permits will allow parents to park in bays near the school for 15 minutes.

The price will be linked to the car's carbon dioxide emissions - drivers of small, low-polluting cars will get a free permit, but parents with people carriers or four-wheel drives will be charged the maximum £75.

Previously, parents of Richmond schoolchildren could pick up a free permit from the school which allowed them to park on double yellow lines or in bays for 10 minutes.

Richmond was the first local authority in the country to link the price of residents' parking permits to engine emissions, in 2006, and the Liberal Democrat-run council announced last month that it would score another national first by switching its entire 200-vehicle fleet to biodiesel made from recycled cooking oil.

A spokesman said they were following the Government's lead on traffic-related issues. "The Government is trying to reduce school run car use, and we support it," he said. "We want to drive down carbon dioxide emissions in the borough and become the most sustainable council in the country."

The council says parents on the school run accounts for 20 per cent of all traffic on the borough's roads at 8.50am during term-time. It also says the proportion of parents using the car to get their children to school has almost doubled in the past 10 years from 16 per cent to 30 per cent.

But Margaret Morrissey, of the National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations, told the Sunday Telegraph the scheme was "unfair and unrealistic", and that many parents had no choice but to use big cars.

She said: "Mums and small children are such an easy target for councils. They should try offering some parking provision and stop this nonsense.

"Many families have three or four children and they need the space to fit child seats the Government insists on."

Paul Watters, the AA's head of public affairs, told the paper: "People carriers may be in the higher carbon dioxide bands, but they are very efficient at getting kids to school, considering many are seven-seaters. It might be a better idea to remove the many smaller cars that clog the streets up."

Under Richmond's residential parking scheme, permit prices tripled for vehicles emitting the most carbon dioxide. In a council survey, 47 per cent of residents voted for the scheme and 39 per cent were against. Commenting at the time for the AA, Mr Watters called the move a "tax-raising exercise".