Mail on Sunday
By Michael Lea and Ray Massey

Motorists face a second onslaught from the planned changes to road tax under rules linking the cost of parking outside their home to engine emissions.

Owners of many ordinary family cars face higher bills for annual residents permits, motoring organisations warned today.

[Several councils already charge more for vehicles depending on the amount of pollution they pump out, which have seen the price triple for some drivers.]

Similar schemes are likely to be rolled out across the country, based on the 13 new bands for vehicle excise duty which come into force next year.

There are also plans in some areas for pay and display car parks to charge drivers of gas guzzlers more.

Motorists are already braced for increases of up to £245 to use the roads under the Treasury’s controversial plans, which were sharply criticised by MPs today.

Now the RAC Foundation is warning that they could also see the cost of not using their car rise at the same time.

‘We are uneasy about the link between emissions and parking because a vehicle that is parked is not polluting. So to charge a stationery car seems illogical,’ deputy director Sheila Rainger told the Mail.

Three members of the Commons environmental audit committee argue that the Treasury’s changes to vehicle excise duty are ‘unprecedented and retrospective’.

Their report also says the Treasury’s failure to calculate the impact the changes will have on carbon emissions reveals a ‘cavalier attitude which gives environmental taxes a bad name’.

Their damning verdict came in a minority report from the all-party select committee. It is a highly unusual move because Commons committees normally try to produce unanimous reports.

But the split reveals the strength of feeling over plans by the Chancellor Alistair Darling to charge motorists with older cars more to use the roads.

Even the majority report finds that the backdated taxes – which were sold as an environmental measure – had not been accompanied with hard facts on how it will lead to reductions of CO2 emissions from secondhand vehicles.

It also expresses concerns over the financial effect on poor households and again notes that there was a lack of evidence on how many of those will be worse off under the changes.

Almost 400,000 car owners earning less than £15,000 a year will be hit, according to the Tories.

The majority report warns that the changes were ‘poorly explained and communicated’, thereby ‘increasing the perception of them as revenue-raising measures with no environmental purpose’.

Motoring groups attacked the majority report. AA president Edmund King said: ‘It is intrinsically unfair and unusual to introduce a new system of taxation that applies to families who have already purchased their vehicles and are unable to sell them.’

Under the changes, cars will be divided into groups based on CO2 emissions. Just 3,944,700 out of the 22million on the road by 2010 – 18 per cent – will see the price of a tax disc fall.

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