Polluting cars to pay more to enter London's congestion zone

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London, Feb 13 (UNI) The owners of the most-polluting and sport utility cars will now have to pay triple the amount to enter central London's congestion zone.

London Mayor Ken Livingstone will increase city's daily congestion charge to 25 pounds for the most-polluting cars and sport utility vehicles in pursuance of his latest plan to cut carbon emissions by boosting driving costs.

Livingstone has called drivers of sport utilities, known locally as ''Chelsea tractors,'' irresponsible, Owners of vehicles that emit more than 225 grams of carbon dioxide a kilometer as per the G band' rating for calculating UK vehicle tax will pay the increased fee to enter central London's congestion zone starting October 27. The charge will be waived for owners of the least-polluting vehicles.

The changes were initiated to reduce traffic, improve air quality and raise cash for public transportation.

Earlier, on February 4 the Mayor, who maintains that London's air quality is the worst in western Europe, imposed a 200-pound daily charge on the most-polluting commercial trucks.

There are plans to introduce a fleet of 6,000 street-rental bicycles in 2010 to improve bike routes.

Milan, Stockholm and Singapore have similar systems, and New York is considering one.

The Mayor, who has put environmental issues on the top of his agenda and is seeking a third four-year term in a May 1 election is being criticised by his opponent Boris Johnson for proposing a stealth tax'' on families that need bigger cars.

''If we want to discourage car use we need fresh thinking from the mayor and not old-style tax-the-motorist policies,'' Johnson, who rides his bicycle most days to Parliament, is reported to have said.

UNI XC AKJ HT1514

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