A TRANSPORT industry leader is calling on Scotland’s towns and cities not to follow London’s T-charge – stating it punishes the poorest drivers and innocent businesses.
Brought in recently by Transport for London to tackle the pollution crisis, T-charges have been rolled out in addition to congestion charges, with older, more polluting cars facing the largest levies – paying a combined £21.50 per day to drive in central London.
Jerry Stewart, Co-Director of Scotland’s largest courier firm, Eagle Couriers, believes regressive T-charges introduced in London and similar “Low Emission Zones” being proposed by councils across Scotland will unfairly punish those with less money.
While recognising that the pollution crisis affecting many Scottish cities needs urgent focus, Jerry believes the solution should not just be through punishment and should instead be balanced with further positive incentives.
Jerry said: “Well-intentioned drivers and businesses shouldn’t be the ones that get penalised especially when diesel cars were often marketed as a more appealing option and incentivised by the government through lower taxes.
“If anything, the fact we have so many diesel vehicles on the roads is a failing on manufacturers and governments, certainly not on the drivers.
“So despite good intentions – the solutions now rolled out in London will come down hardest on those just about managing, making it quite clearly a regressive tax.
“Not only that, those with older cars may face no alternative, with the soaring costs of public transport and the costs associated with buying a new car.
The industry veteran and Fellow with the Institute of Couriers believes that a solution has to come at a governmental and even international level to ensure the responsibility is firmly on vehicle manufacturers.
“While some level of congestion charge in certain areas is inevitable and even understandable, it is not a solution itself that we should be applying in Scotland.
“There is a huge amount that can be done – and we need to encourage bigger thinking about public transport, cycle schemes, education and heavy investment in electric vehicle infrastructure.
“We can learn a lot from our European neighbours, who are leading the way in improving air quality standards and the implementation of electric vehicles, and apply a number of their forward thinking solutions.
“Only then will we see plummeting diesel emissions delivered in a way that is fair on the poorest drivers and businesses contributing to the economy and society.”
Further information on Eagle Couriers can be found at www.eaglecouriers.co.uk or on 0845 123 1230.