We are the UK’s leading legal advisers on all forms of road charging schemes – congestion charging, clean air zones and workplace parking levies.
Our advice includes all aspects of the authorisation process including the scheme development, formulation and drafting of legal orders, public consultation, engagement with government, communications, commercial contracts and the wide range of public law considerations which emerge, including equalities issues, data protection and subsidy control.
Road charging is a requirement for some local authorities and a useful option for others but, as the Transport Select Committee reported, there is now ‘no viable alternative’ other than for national government to introduce a UK-wide road pricing scheme.
The design of a potential national scheme will be critical. Levelling up requires a system that reflects local needs and demands, economically and socially. The technology now exists to do that. A ‘one size fits all’ approach will not build the consensus needed and will introduce more politics into the debate. Road pricing may also be central in achieving net zero- domestic transport is the largest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions in the UK, of which over 95% comes from road transport. An appropriate road pricing scheme has the potential to contribute hugely to the decarbonisation of this sector.
If government is to deal with air quality, climate change, congestion and plug a looming £35 billion gap in public finances it will need to look seriously at introducing some form of road pricing.
Road User Charging
Road user charging can be introduced for various reasons, for instance to tackle congestion, or to raise revenue for new roads or river crossings.
We are currently advising National Highways on the proposed Lower Thames Crossing, which would be subject to a road user charge. Members of our team also advised Transport for London on the Silvertown Tunnel road user charging scheme. Our extensive work with Transport of London has also included the London Congestion Charging scheme.
Tolling is another means by which the construction and maintenance of roads and river crossings can be financed. Our team has advised on the introduction and amendment of tolled roads.
Clean Air Zones (CAZ) and Zero Emission Zones (ZEZ)
Clean Air Zones (CAZ) are gaining dominance as a tool to tackle air quality issues in the UK. A number of local authorities have been directed by the Secretary of State to introduce a CAZ, and others are free to do so. CAZs can either involve charging certain types of vehicle for entering or moving within a zone, or other air quality improvement measures.
We have helped numerous local authorities in developing their charging CAZ including Bath City Council, Birmingham City Council, Greater Manchester Combined Authority, Leeds City Council, Newcastle Under Lyme Borough Council, Newcastle Upon Tyne City Council, Sheffield City Council, Portsmouth City Council, Staffordshire County Council and Stoke on Trent City Council.
We has also advised Transport for London for many years on its Low Emission Zone, Ultra Low Emission Zone and related measures.
We are currently advising Oxfordshire County Council on its Zero Emission Zone, which is the first charging scheme to focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions – a model other authorities could follow.
Workplace Parking Levy (WPL)
Workplace Parking Levy (WPL) is a system whereby employers are charged for providing parking spaces for their workers as a way of reducing congestion and raising money for transport projects.
We worked with Nottingham City Council on the development and implementation of the first WPL, and advised Transport for London on developing a framework for the introduction of WPL schemes in London. We are currently working with Leicester City Council in the development of a WPL scheme.