UK [updated 15:20GMT]: Porsche threatens congestion charge court action
Porsche Cars Great Britain on Tuesday (19 February) said it would apply for a judicial review of the Mayor of London's proposed extension to the London congestion charge, which will see the cost of driving some cars in the capital rise from GBP8.00 (about $US16) a day, or GBP0.80 if they are residents in the congestion zone, to GBP25.00 ($50) a day.
Porsche said the proposed increase for Band G is unfair (since 2001, UK have been charged annual road tax on a sliding 'band'cscale according to their CO2 emissions - ed), and that the increase - 3025% for central London residents - is 'disproportionate' and will do nothing to achieve the stated aim of decreasing emissions in central London.
Last week, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), which represents UK automakers and importers, criticised the proposed changes, saying they would do little to cut emissions or traffic congestion in the capital.
Porsche Cars GB managing director Andy Goss said: "A massive congestion charge increase is quite simply unjust. Thousands of car owners driving a huge range of cars will be hit by a disproportionate tax which [clearly] will have a very limited effect on CO2 emissions."
Porsche plans to write to mayor Ken Livingstone this week. If he fails to respond to the automaker's letter within 14 days, or refuses to reconsider his plans, the sports car and luxury SUV maker intends formally to submit its application for judicial review at London's Royal Courts of Justice.
According to Reuters, 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 the news agency.
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, Reuters said. He also said the new scheme would raise GBP30m to GBP50m 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.
But Reuters noted that Livingstone, who has made the environment a central plank of his tenure, is facing a tough re-election battle in May and, if he loses, his new emissions policy is likely to go with him.
Goss added: "Not only is this rise completely unfair to many drivers, but it will also damage London based-businesses of all sizes, and successful people from across the world will start to think twice about basing themselves here if they think they are going to be used as cash cows for City Hall.
"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."
Judicial review is the procedure by which individuals and organisations can seek to challenge the decision, action or failure to act of a public body such as a government department or a local authority or other body exercising a public law function.
[Editor's note: Under British law, a judicial review can be used to seek a mandatory order (ie an order requiring the public body to do something and formerly known as an order of mandamus); a prohibiting order (ie an order preventing the public body from doing something and formerly known as an order of prohibition); a quashing order (ie an order quashing the public body's decision and formerly known as an order of certiorari); a declaration; or Human Rights Act damages.
Claims generally are heard by a single judge sitting in open court at the historic Royal Courts of Justice building on London's Strand. They may also be heard by a divisional court (a court of two judges) where the court so directs.]