Edinburgh parking: Permit charges could be redesigned to target SUVs, larger and heavier vehicles

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Council chiefs are looking at revamping Edinburgh’s parking permit charges in a bid to target larger and heavier vehicles.

They believe higher parking costs could deter Capital residents from opting for SUVs and other bigger vehicles, which are seen as more dangerous to pedestrians and other drivers.

Owners of larger and heavier vehicles could face higher parking charges in Edinburgh. Owners of larger and heavier vehicles could face higher parking charges in Edinburgh.
Owners of larger and heavier vehicles could face higher parking charges in Edinburgh.

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The city’s residential parking permit system currently involves seven bands of charges, depending on vehicle emissions. But a report to the transport and environment committee says that could be changed to reflect a combination of factors such as emissions, weight, size or class of vehicle, if it was considered appropriate.

Committee convener Scott Arthur said: “The current band set-up is really designed for diesel and petrol cars and most people know that the bigger your engine, the more you pay for your permit. But if you’ve got an electric car, no matter how big it is, you get the lowest band parking permit. I think we’re at a stage now where we can afford to review that because what we want to discourage is people swapping big petrol of diesel cars for big electric cars. Quite a lot of people, particularly in the city centre, feel intimidated by larger vehicles moving around.”

A workshop is planned with members of the committee to discuss how the permit scheme might be redesigned to focus on size and weight. Cllr Arthur said he thought there were probably also too many bands and the system could be simplified.

It comes after the committee agreed to a motion from Green councillor Chas Booth in October last year, calling for options to be explored for discouraging or restricting the use of larger and heavier vehicles in the city by means of parking permit charging or environmental orders.

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The report by officials says using parking permit charges to deter larger vehicles could become “complex” and would only influence vehicle use or ownership if the owner required a parking permit. Varying on-street parking fees to target larger vehicles would mean having to upgrade the ticket machines.

The report says environmental orders are usually used to regulate HGVs in town centres or on roads with a particular weight capacity and would be “almost impossible to understand and enforce for private cars”, not least because many drivers would not know if their car was over a certain weight.

Cllr Arthur said he was broadly supportive of trying to restrict heavier vehicles. He said research suggested people involved in accidents with larger and heavier vehicles were more likely to be injured , whether they were a pedestrian or another driver.

He said using the parking permit bands to target the larger vehicles may be the best place to start. “Something that’s going through my head is should we be issuing permits to very large vehicles at all? Perhaps legally we have to. But I do wonder if you live in the city centre, do you really need a massive vehicle?  That’s just my opinion, so I think it’s right we come together as a committee and talk through these issues.”

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He said a good point had been made already, that some people with disabilities often require bigger vehicles. “Perhaps there’s something there we can look at around exemptions.

“The aim is to look at this and come up with set of proposals - if we agree to change things - in advance of the budget next year because the permit costs feature in the budget. Even if we were to go for a cost neutral change, so we just mess around with the bands but there’s no extra or less income raised, it still has to be approved via the budget process because that’s when all the tariffs are set.

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