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Road charge plans favour gas guzzlers, say greens

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GREEN GROUPS this week attacked transport secretary Alistair Darling's road user charging plans for failing to discourage use of fuel hungry vehicles.

Darling said that it would be 'too complicated' to vary charges according to engine capacities or carbon dioxide emissions.

Speaking to the Social Market Foundation last week, Darling argued that the main reason for road pricing was to cut congestion. He said this would also bring major environmental benefits.

ongestion charging is expected to coincide with the scrapping of fuel duty. This penalises the cars which use the most fuel.

Environmental lobby group Transport 2000 expressed disappointment at Darling's comments.

'We want the mileage rate for gas guzzlers to be twice or even three times that for greener vehicles such as hybrids to provide a very clear incentive for drivers to buy less polluting vehicles, ' said Transport 2000 director Stephen Joseph.

'Alistair Darling says this might be too complicated.

That's neither fair nor will it help motorists make responsible choices in the car showroom.' Friends of the Earth called for road user charging to be introduced alongside increases in road tax instead.

It wants tax on the most polluting cars to be raised to £500 per year within five years, with the cleanest, most fuelefficient cars charged nothing.

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