Last week’s Newsletter about plans to tax cheap air travel out of existence prompted a big response from readers both for and against the idea.
Well, another week another environmental tax, only this time the focus of the debate is closer to home – right outside your front door, in fact.
The London Borough of Richmond has unveiled plans to make residents pay more for their parking permits if they drive a vehicle with high CO2 emissions.
Under the proposals tiny electric cars would be free. Drive a Jaguar X-Type, or for that matter a Renault Espace, and you can expect a bill of £300 to park on the street compared to the £100 you pay now.
That assumes of course that the Lib Dem-sponsored plan is accepted, and for those of us who don’t live in Richmond the temptation is surely to shrug our shoulders.
Don’t imagine for a moment, however, that if Richmond begins raking in the revenue then authorities up and down the UK won’t start drawing up their own plans. There is nothing local government likes more than the chance to raise extra cash.
Like last week’s example of airline tickets, this is another move towards what will become a significant trend over the next few years – the direct linkage of taxation with the environmental credentials of technology, in this case cars.
The stated aim of the Richmond proposals is, of course, to encourage people to purchase ‘cleaner’ vehicles by rewarding them if they do and punishing them if they don’t.
Is this the right approach? It’s difficult to tell, and the jury would be out for the best part of 10 years when it would become clearer whether the people of Richmond were trading down in emissions terms when they renewed their cars.
In the meantime, here’s a couple of observations.
Firstly, in the land of the parking permit, the private driveway is king. Expect the builders of south-west London to raise a glass to the council as they prepare to concrete over front gardens by the score.
Secondly, what happens if it works? If the people of Richmond really do start abandoning their Jags and switching to Smarts, the cash cow would soon run dry, and the borough would have to find a new charge to make ends meet.
The Engineer & The Engineer Online