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Electric vehicle drivers face massive spike in parking charges in central London

Visitors to central London could face higher parking charges if new rules are approved (John Walton/PA) (PA Wire)
Visitors to central London could face higher parking charges if new rules are approved (John Walton/PA) (PA Wire)

Visitors driving electric cars into the West End or Soho could face a massive spike in parking charges.

Conservative councillors fear plans to change parking charges across central London could "undermine the overarching aim to reduce CO2 emissions and to reduce particulate emissions".

Westminster City Council recently put forward plans to charge drivers different amounts to park depending on their vehicle’s CO2 emission levels.

Under the changes parking charges will vary from £1.48 per hour for electric vehicles in Harrow Road, Queen’s Park and Maida Vale North, while the most polluting diesel vehicles will be charged up to £13.86 per hour, with the highest charges being in areas such as the West End and Soho.

Drivers will also have to pay a 50% diesel surcharge, a rule that has been in Westminster since 2019.

But the planned changes could have to be reconsidered after three Conservative councillors called in the council’s decision on November 20.

Under the current system electric car drivers can park for up to four hours by just paying for 10 minutes worth of parking.

Electric vehicle drivers can pay as little as 96p for a four hour stay in areas such as the West End, Covent Garden and Marylebone, but under the proposed changes they will now have to pay £5.80 an hour.

Lancaster Gate councillor Laila Cunningham told the Standard: "I used to own an electric car when I lived outside of Westminster because I had to drive my kids into the borough.

"The incentive was the reduced parking charges. That is just the kind of cars we want driving into Westminster.

"By increasing parking charges by so much we will be removing a major incentive to buy an electric car.

"They are still very expensive to buy and charge if you do not have a driveway, but the reduced parking was a massive incentive, that is being removed and will only increase air pollution.

"It feels like a reverse Ulez and is contradictory to Labour net zero targets."

Councillors were also concerned the proposed fees could "have a disproportionate impact upon disabled people and people on low incomes".

A climate committee meeting on Wednesday will decide if the proposed parking charges need to be changed.

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, cabinet member for city management and air quality, said: “Westminster City Council has invested heavily in electric vehicle infrastructure to encourage people to switch to EVs and low polluting vehicles.

“Westminster has more than 2,500 electric vehicle chargers across the city which is more than any other local authority in the UK. And 50 per cent of our waste collection fleet is now made up of zero-emission electric vehicles.

“Until now, pay to park charges for EVs in Westminster have been extremely low, and to keep up with the increasing demand for EVs the council is moving to an emissions-based charging system.

"The new scheme will support the growth of electric vehicles in the city while keeping charges fair, proportionate, and as low as possible.

“Westminster residents with an EV will pay less than £1.50 a week – the lowest in London - to park outside their home, and visitors with EVs who pay to park will still be paying considerably less than in neighbouring London boroughs.”