Four radical road charging schemes are being proposed for Reading, as the council sets out its transport plans for the next 15 years.

The proposals, which include a Workplace Parking Levy and a clean air zone, aim to remove the most polluting vehicles from Reading’s streets.

Some of the schemes could be introduced within the next two years, according to the council’s transport chief.

Councillor Tony Page, lead member for Transport, said: “The strategy includes schemes some people may find controversial. I make no apology for that.

“The only way we can hope to tackle the Climate Emergency locally, and the poor air quality and congestion which blights parts of our town, is by taking a much more radical approach. The status quo is not an option.

“If people don’t like elements of this, they need to set out alternatives they would us to consider.”

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The four charging schemes Reading Borough Council (RBC) is considering introducing to reduce motor traffic are:

  • Clean Air Zone
  • Workplace Parking Levy (WPL)
  • Emissions-based parking fees
  • Road User Charging (also known as a a Congestion Charge)

Councillor Page said it was unlikely that all four schemes will be introduced but two or three of the proposals could go ahead.

The council initially wants to use automatic number plate recognition technology to focus on cars that use the town as a shortcut and councillor Page said a scheme to tackle this problem could be introduced in 2022.

He speculated charges for people who drive through the town “without stopping for a cup of tea” could be as high as £50-£100, saying it has to be “sufficient to deter” but also must be justified.

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The WPL has the “greatest practical hurdles” to being introduced due to Green Park – a business hub – being partly in the Wokingham Borough Council area, and government funding being required.

The other three schemes could go ahead without local authority support or government funding.

About 60 per cent of Reading residents responded to a consultation last summer in support of a charging scheme, which councillor Page said would never have happened ten years ago.

Revenue from road charging schemes would be re-invested in sustainable transport alternatives to the private car.

What else is in the strategy?

The new strategy also includes a new North Reading orbital route linking the A4074 and A4155 and helping to promote park & rides, which would be subject to the Third Thames Crossing going ahead.

There are also plans for fast track corridors to the south, south-west, east (the East Reading MRT is still part of the council’s strategy) and west of the town centre.

An example of a fast track corridor is the controversial failed East Reading MRT scheme, which is still part of the council’s strategy but with no current plans to submit a new planning application.

Other plans include:

  • New cycle routes and a cycle hire scheme
  • School streets
  • New and expanded park & rides
  • More electric vehicle charging points
  • Embracing technology and innovation, such as autonomous vehicles
  • Expanding the council’s concessionary bus fares scheme

The latest round of consultation on the council’s transport plans begins on March 23 and runs until June 14.

Transport is the biggest greenhouse gas emitting sector in the UK, accounting for around 27 per cent of total emissions.