Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Green Taxes: Parking permit plan targets 'gas guzzlers' :

The UK appears to be embracing the concept of "persuading" individuals to change their behaviour via the imposition of "green taxes". Richmond upon Thames in south west London is one of Britain’s most affluent boroughs - its solution is to introduce a sliding scale of charges for residents’ parking permits.

Certain cars will be exempt from resident parking charges (to park on the road outside your house) while others will have to pay up to three times the current level.

Two articles in the British press are here in the Independent and for a lowbrow version in the Sun.

From the Independent:

The scheme would introduce a sliding scale of charges for parking permits from band A, which would be free, to band G, which would charge three times the current cost of annual parking permits.

Band A would consist of electric cars while band G would be made up cars such as 4x4s, the Porsche 911 Carrera, the Jaguar X-type, Range Rover 4.4 litre and the Renault Espace people carrier.

A spokesman for the council denied the scheme was a money-making exercise.

He said: "We have calculated that it could make up to £1 million. However, as people, as we expect, switch to cars in the lower bands, it is obviously going to take revenue.

"This is not being done as a revenue-raising exercise, it is being done as an exercise in cutting down on CO2 emissions."

This exercise is a good first stage. Whether it will make a difference is debatable. If one can afford to drive a Porshe911 an extra £300 a year will make little difference against general running costs. Moreover, most drivers of cars of this type do not keep them on the road anyway. Then there is the question of collection costs - how much will this scheme cost to monitor and enforce relative to revenues. Still, something is generally better than nothing.

Finally, the odds of this scheme actually becoming reality are still slim - time will tell.


Robert Metcalfe said...

I have first hand experience in this area as I live there but the council is pretty good on the controlling bit - every couple of weeks there are traffic wardens going past my house, so the maintenance costs will be as usual. The problem I have with this scheme is that it won't change behaviour since this is a very affluent borough. Maybe the council should get tough and do the Athens route, i.e. one car per family is allowed into the city within each week.

David Maddison said...

This is an interesting idea but one which is difficult to support at least the way in which it is currently being implemented. Although a laudible goal it is not the responsibility of the local council to reduce CO2 emissions. The damage done by carbon is independent of where it is emitted and anyway parked cars generate no emissions. It would be better if the scheme targeted road users whose vehicles generated localised pollution such as noise or particulates. I suspect that this means taxing older vehicles owned by poorer members of the community - not that there are any really poor people living in Richmond!

bottleman said...

On a lark, let's take the proposal seriously. Its basic function would be to institutionalize a kind of "environmental piety" pecking order currently fashionable among (god i hate to say it but for once this really is the right word) the bourgeois.

Think about it. Its practical effect is to discourage the public display of "disgraceful" cars. The program really has little to do with CO2 emissions -- which are related to not just car make and model, but to HOW MUCH one drives (and flys, and how big a house you have). If you only drive 3000 miles a year in your gas guzzler, your emissions are lower than a more typical driver in a Prius, and you haven't contributed any production-related environmental harm because no new vehicle was purchased.

But you get no credit -- there's no visible sign of your virtue. In fact some people are ready to hand you a scarlet "G" for your frock.

I think some opportunistic functionary in the local government just noticed this and tried to make a moneymaking scheme out of it. Way to keep tabs on the culture, taxman!

Rob Elliott said...

Thanks for looking in Bottleman.

For those not aware has recently posted an A-Z of environmental blogs.

Our offering has yet to make the list though under "G".

See for the full listing of environmental related blogs.

I hope we have most of the "environmental economics" and academic related blogs coverered in our sidebar but the other sites do offer interesting reading.