By Oliver Farrimond
EDINBURGH council is set to unveil harsh measures intended to punish drivers of “gas-guzzling” cars.
City bosses are planning to levy steep charges for drivers of CO2-heavy vehicles, including doubling the cost of some parking permits.
Drivers of cars such as Land Rovers or Citroen C6 will face a levy of £320 for parking outside their own homes, if the council’s plans are approved.
In a move intended to encourage drivers in the Capital to take up smaller cars with lower levels of emissions, the plans also include measures to reduce the parking permits of smaller vehicles, such as the Seat Ibiza or the Volkswagen Polo.
Drivers of these cars would see their parking permit costs fall by as much as £65, while extra charges would also be levied against those with a second car.
City chiefs have said the roughly half of city parking permit holders would benefit as a result of the controversial scheme.
But the Taxpayers’ Alliance has slammed the scheme, labelling it “punitive” and “astonishing”.
Fiona McEvoy, Grassroots Manager at the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said: “Motorists are wildly overtaxed as it stands, and the owners of cars with bigger engines already pay more in fuel duty.
“What’s more, these ‘gas guzzler’ definitions always end up including many ordinary family vehicles the public might not expect.
“This is a punitive charge to correct residents’ behaviour, yet some people may not be able to afford to change their cars or may rely on bigger vehicles for other reasons.
“Whatever the case, now is certainly not the time to be hitting people in the pocket and it’s astonishing that this authority have been giving this issue so much airtime when there are vital cuts to be made.”
The controversial scheme was first proposed in 2008 by Green councillor Steve Burgess, but was rejected after it was discovered that the plan would cost the council an estimated £400,000.
But Councillor Gordon Mackenzie, transport convener for the City of Edinburgh Council, said that the council had a “duty” to reduce carbon emissions.
He said: “As a local authority we have a duty to meet air quality standards and play our part in achieving the target of a 42 per cent reduction in the nation’s CO2 emissions by 2020 as set by the Scottish Parliament.
“By using CO2 emissions as the basis for our permit charges we hope to encourage the move, which is already being supported by many owners and vehicle manufacturers, towards vehicles which pollute less.
“For the council, this initiative is cost neutral.
“It is not making any more money but it should help towards achieving our goal of improved air quality and a better environment for residents.”
If passed, the controversial new measures will come into force by the end of November of this year.