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Congestion charge bid on lorries passing through Chideock on A35
A LONDON-style congestion charge may be introduced to force lorries out of a west Dorset village.
Chideock resident Tony Fuller has waging a ‘campaign of chaos’ for over a year to highlight pollution problems from heavy goods vehicles.
Now he says it has all been worth it as he receives encouraging updates from West Dorset MP Oliver Letwin.
Mr Fuller, who is suffering from cancer and has had three heart attacks since the protest began, said: I think it has been worth all the effort. This is what I have been hoping and praying for.”
He said that he had been given hope in a letter from the MP – including references to a low emission zone.
The London Low Emission Zone includes charges for commercial vehicles with emissions over a certain level – but it also includes diversionary routes and in some cases allows vehicles to turn around to avoid the zone.
Mr Fuller and a group of villagers carried out direct action protest by repeatedly using the pelican crossing and disrupting traffic.
Behind the scenes Mr Fuller also met Mr Letwin and Highways Agency officials.
He says he has heard from Mr Letwin with progress on diverting HGVs who have no local business away from the A35.
Mr Letwin said the first signs of progress were likely in the autumn and a good deal of work was now underway.
He said: “I think we have been making some real progress with the Highways Agency and the two councils.
“We have established that it would in principle be possible to prohibit the largest vehicles from this route if they had no local businesses to perform.
“We have also established that it would be perfectly possible in practice, and not too expensive, to enforce such a rule – based on the system used by the Mayor of London to operate his ‘low emission zone’.
“Work is now under way to get better estimates of the effect on pollution that we could have by these means, so to document what legal steps would need to be taken.
“I think we are certainly much further advanced than we have been at any time in the last decade.”
THE Low Emission Zone (LEZ) was introduced in 2008 to cut pollution levels in the capital.
It covers most of Greater London and covers heavy goods vehicles as well as buses and motorcaravans but not cars.
Vehicles must meet certain emissions standards or pay a daily charge.
These range from £100 from larger vans to £200 for lorries.
Cameras read number plates of vehicles and check whether vehicles meets the LEZ emissions standards, is exempt, is registered for a discount or if the daily charge has been paid in advance.
Operators of vehicles which haven’t paid in advance can face penalty charges of upto £1,000.