London - Luxury carmaker Porsche said on
Tuesday it planned to legally challenge London mayor Ken
Livingstone's decision to help fight global warming by taxing
gas guzzling cars driving in the city centre.
on Tuesday the 25 pound ($48.74) daily charge was unfair, would
not cut emissions of carbon dioxide and would deter businesses
from moving to the city.
"A massive congestion charge increase is quite simply
unjust," said Andy Goss, managing director of Porsche Cars GB.
"Thousands of car owners driving a huge range of cars will
be hit by a disproportionate tax which is clear will have a very
limited effect on CO2 emissions," he added.
Livingstone rejected the move as a public relations stunt
and called it an attack on Londoners.
"No one is allowed to throw their rubbish in the street and
Porsche should not be allowed to impose gas guzzling polluting
cars on Londoners who do not want them," he told reporters.
Announcing the plan last week Livingstone admitted that it
would have little immediate effect on carbon emissions but said
it would discourage people from driving polluting cars in the
city centre and encourage manufacturers to make cleaner engines.
He said the new scheme would raise 30 million to 50 million
pounds a year and cover most of the cost of a major cycling
initiative that will include a Paris-style roadside bicycle hire
scheme in the city centre.
Livingstone, who has made the environment a central plank of
his tenure, is facing a tough re-election battle in May. If he
loses, his emissions policy is likely to go with him.
The 25 pound daily tax on vehicles emitting 225 grams or
more of carbon dioxide per km would apply in the same way as the
normal 8 pound ($16) daily charge does to all but the cleanest
"I have every sympathy with a Scottish hill farmer who needs
his 4x4 to get around. But there is absolutely no justification
for cars producing high amounts of pollution being driven in
central London," Livingstone said when he announced the scheme.
Environmentalists lashed out at the Porsche move and called
for even tougher measures against the most polluting cars in
next month's budget.
"Along with the rest of the German car industry they are
desperately resisting the strong measures needed to tackle the
car industry's contribution to climate change," said Friends of
the Earth head Tony Juniper.
Porsche said it would write to Livingstone this week asking
him to reconsider the plan.
If he failed to respond in 14 days or refused to reconsider
the plan that will come into force in October, the carmaker
would make a submission to the courts for a judicial review.
"The proposed increase will be bad for London as a whole and
will send out the signal that it is not serious about
establishing itself as the best place in the world to do
business," Goss said.
The court could force a delay, alteration or even a
rejection of the plan.
A judicial challenge by Greenpeace last year forced the
government to mount a major public consultation on its proposals
for a new fleet of nuclear power stations.