UK considers line of attack on traffic jams

Government proposes powers for municipalities to charge for road use, parking

The UK government is considering introducing road-user and parking charges to help combat rising road congestion and pollution. A consultation paper launched yesterday by the environment ministry proposes giving local authorities the power to levy charges and use the money to improve public transport systems. The idea stems from a white paper on sustainable transport published earlier this year (ENDS Daily 21 July). According to government figures, UK citizens spent a total of 1.6bn hours in traffic jams in 1996, 80% of which were in urban areas. The government calculates that road traffic will increase by at least 24% and may even double between 1996 and 2016. The Confederation of British Industry welcomed the prospect of road charges, but criticised the possibility of parking taxes, which it claimed would hit businesses hard. Seventy per cent of people in the UK drive to work and 75% receive free parking from their employer, according to official figures. Environmental groups have broadly welcomed the government's proposals. The consultation process will last until March next year. The government recently proposed legislation to enable congestion charges to be introduced in London.

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