Opinion: Time to bring in congestion charging for Norwich

A big increase in traffic in Norwich. Pictured is the A146 Barrett Road from the Tuckswood roundabou

Could a congestion charge be the future of fighting climate change in Norwich - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Diesel and petrol cars will stop being made in 2040.

That is only 18 years away. 2021 sees another drop in new registrations of petrol and diesel cars in the UK compared to 2020.

Petrol vehicles sales dropped by 15pc and diesel by 47pc.

Meanwhile, we have to get used to some new acronyms. Do you know what a BEV is? What about PHEV, HEV and MHEV?

A BEV is a battery electric vehicle; PHEV is a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle; a HEV is a hybrid electric vehicle and MHEV is a mild hybrid electric vehicle – and all of these are coming to a street near you.

So, while sales of these new electric vehicles are going up, their price still deters a lot of people but there is another huge obstacle to people buying these environmentally friendly cars and that is where does one charge them

People who can afford to purchase, I would imagine have space in the residence to have their own plug-in socket, so their car can charge overnight. But look at Norwich streets.

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There are rows and rows of terrace housing around the city and blocks of flat with communal car parking. In fact, there are probably a whole host of issues where people do not have a parking space outside their home for their car(s).

I find it amazing that developers are not yet required to install a charge point into new builds. And by the by why don’t new houses come ready fitted with solar panels?

The lack of a charge point must be part the planning permission, and any council says its not part of their local plan, the environment cannot wait for their local plan to change. In fact, anything being built or modified must have charging points installed, schools, factories, shops, car parks etc etc.

Now the biggest problem for local authorities in installing these as part of the street infrastructure is probably going to be good old cash. Someone is going to have to pay for it – so how about the polluter pays?

With today’s technology, Norwich could kill two birds with one stone. That is Congestion Charging for the City centre.

This Christmas, as with previous Christmases traffic is chocker around car parks in Norwich, delaying buses and other road users. Cars idling in queues is not helping the environment or people with asthma (remember Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah).

So, my plan would see that anyone entering the city from the inner ring road will incur a congestion charge. The congestion charge “gates” are: Prince of Wales Road, Whitefirars, Calvert Street, Oak Street, Westwick Street, St Benedicts Street, Cleveland Road (Chapel Field North), Chapel Field East (Chapelfield Car Park), St Stephens, All Saints Green, Surrey Street, Finkelgate, Ber Street, King Street (at junction with Carrow Road), Albion Way and Koblenz Avenue/Riverside Road (part).

These measures seem harsh but the revenue will be ring fenced for the purpose of providing charging points for the whole of Norwich. Residents with-in the inner circle would get a discount but they would benefit in the longer term. Electric vehicles and buses would be exempt. Revenue from the charge would ultimately decrease over the years, but so would traffic.

The charge should include all vehicles. More and more taxis are and vans are now electric. Businesses might work together to reduce costs of having 1, 2, 3 or more deliveries a day. Local authorities would also not be exempt as they should be converting to electric vehicles.

This proposal together with road closures to traffic as I suggested in an article on May 20, 2021 could make this city really special for its people, its businesses and for the environment.