posted 9 months ago

Europe Dismisses Reports Congestion Charge Zones Could Be Imposed

National newspaper misinterprets elderly report and suggests drivers face the expansion of congestion charge zones.

Handbook for Local & Regional Authorities misinterpreted

The European Commission dismissed reports that councils could be forced to impose congestion charges to cut traffic pollution, Air Quality News reported. A national newspaper recently made this suggestion based on its interpretation of the “Handbook for Local and Regional Authorities: Delivering on the Europe 2020 Strategy”.

The story was subsequently picked-up by a range of media outlets including other national newspapers. Published statements included:

  • “motorists could be charged for driving through ALL towns and cities under new plans being drawn up by EU”;
  • “drivers could be charged for driving through all towns and cities in the UK under crippling new plans being suggested by EU bureaucrats”;
  • “Brussels meddlers want congestion charge in every town”;
  • “every UK town and city should have a congestion charge, says EU report”.

Content of report clarified

Air Quality News said the document – that was published in 2012 – was produced by European Committee of the Regions (CoR). This is: “Made up of elected members from local authorities across the EU’s 28 member states but does not have powers to propose new policy”.

Congestion Charge Zone

Air Quality News claimed that a European Commission statement explained: “The document does not suggest that all local authorities should introduce charging schemes. It merely cites some examples of policies that are consistent with environmental and economic goals, such as those set out in the Europe 2020 strategy”. 

“This is the EU’s broad strategy to help create jobs and boost growth after the financial crisis, in a smart and sustainable way. It was agreed by all EU Member States; including the United Kingdom.”

However, the European Commission suggested that congestion charging in towns and cities has its place. The statement continued:

“It would seem that the Mayor of London agrees that congestion charging can in the right circumstances be a useful tool, as he operates perhaps the most famous congestion charging scheme in the world. But this is up to him - not to the EU - and still less to the CoR.”

About London Congestion Charge

The London Congestion Charge operates Monday to Friday, 7:00am to 6:00pm. Its purpose is to encourage the use of public transport, cut congestion and improve air quality. Fewer cars suggests less pollution, of course. The boundary is marked by a white “C” on red. 

Payment options - depending whether paying in advance or on the day – include: online, telephone, text message, automated telephone and post. The cost is £11.50 per-day. Alternatively, setting-up “auto pay” slashes the price to £10.00 per-day and automates the process.