Caroline Pidgeon Proposes New Heathrow Congestion Charge Zone

CP_Air_Quality_at_City_Hall.jpgAs Mayor, Caroline Pidgeon will pilot a new congestion charge zone around Heathrow airport to cut traffic congestion and improve air quality.

Launching her proposals at City Hall, Caroline Pidgeon Leader of the Liberal Democrat Assembly Members and candidate for London Mayor said,

"The Congestion Charge has played an important role in the increase in the use, capacity and reliability of public transport in London, as well as an increase in cycling, all of which means a reduction in congestion. But today the Congestion Charge only covers a small very busy area of the city. 

"At Heathrow airport there is serious congestion and very poor air quality. So today I am launching a plan to introduce a new congestion charge zone at Heathrow."

Caroline explained that London's increasing population and growing economy means that congestion will only get worse if action is not taken and congestion is currently estimated to cost London over £5 billion a year. Increased congestion will not only increase the risk of accidents but also undermine our economy and damage our health. The Congestion Charge in its current form is not going to stop this from happening.

The recent rise in congestion has a knock on effect on economic productivity and health. The impact on air quality alone provides compelling reasons to act now and tackle the problem at source.

A recent study commissioned by the Greater London Authority found that nearly 9,500 people die early each year in London due to the long-term effects of exposure to air pollution – making air pollution the second biggest public health risk facing Londoners after smoking.

For decades London has been in breach of the legal limits for concentrations of pollutants in outdoor air set by the EU Ambient Air Quality Directive (2008/50/EC) – most notably for Particulate Matter (PM) and Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2).

Meanwhile the European Commission has commenced the first stage of a legal process against the UK Government for failing to reduce excessive levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), with the UK's Supreme Court ruling separately that the government must take immediate steps to cut air pollution.

Caroline said, "Some of the most congested areas of London are currently outside the congestion charge zone, such as Heathrow airport. Creating a localised congestion charge zone in these areas would help reduce congestion locally and potentially have a positive knock-on effect on central London. The experience of the central congestion charge zone is that this would be relatively easy to set up and that the infrastructure costs would quickly be paid for by the revenue raised."

Questions Answered

Where will it operate?

Caroline will consult on the exact zone boundaries but the aim is to require all cars arriving at terminals and car parks at the airport to pay the new charge. We would consult on zone bounded by the Bath Road, Great South West Road, Southern Perimeter Road and Stanwell Moor Road.                                  

What hours will it be in force?

The Heathrow Zone would operate the same hours as the current congestion charge zone initially but we will keep the hours under review to make sure that zone is effective at cutting congestion and improving air quality. Details: 

Who will have to pay?

The Heathrow Zone will operate with the same requirements, discounts and exemptions as the current congestion charge zone. Details: 

How will people pay?

The current on-line and telephone and other payment mechanisms would apply to the Heathrow Zone as they do the current congestion charge zone. In addition we will install payment kiosks in car parks, terminal buildings and hotels. Details: 

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