Durham became the first city in the UK to have a permanent congestion charge in 2002. London has had a congestion charge in the central area since 2003. The organisation responsible for the charge is Transport for London (TfL). The fee was introduced on February 17, 2003. Initially set at £5, then raised on July 4, 2005 to £8, the daily charge must be paid by the registered keeper of a vehicle that is on public roads in the congestion charge zone between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. (previously 6:30 p.m.), Monday to Friday. Failure to pay the charge means a fine of at least £50. The charge area was extended into parts of West London on February 19, 2007.
A scheme similar to the one in London is proposed in Manchester, covering a wider area but with a much smaller daily charging window covering the morning and evening rush hours. . A scheme for Cambridge is currently under consideration and the subject of heated public debate, with council surveys showing that a majority of Cambridge-area residents reject the scheme. A scheme for Edinburgh was rejected in a public referendum in February 2005. On 2008-03-05, councils from across the West Midlands, including those from Birmingham and Coventry, rejected the idea of imposing road pricing schemes on the area, this was despite promises from central government of transport project funding in exchange for the implementation of a road pricing pilot scheme. Similar schemes proposed for cities in the East Midlands have also been dropped.
Extensive studies are being done on introducing a scheme for all UK vehicles, with an aim to implementation at the earliest around 2013. In October 2005 the UK government suggested they explore "piggy-backing" road pricing on private sector technologies, such as usage based insurance (also known as pay-as-you-drive, or PAYD).[specify] This method would avoid a large-scale public sector procurement exercise, but such products are unlikely to penetrate the mass market. If introduced, this scheme would likely see a charge being levied per kilometre depending on the time of day, the road being driven along, and perhaps the type of vehicle. For example, a large car driving along the western section of the M25 in rush hour would pay a high charge; a small car driving along a rural lane would pay a much lower charge. The very highest charges would be likely in the most congested urban areas. It is expected that rural motorists would benefit the most from such a scheme, perhaps by paying less through road pricing than they do at present through petrol and car taxes, whereas urban motorists would pay much more than they presently do. However, this is highly dependent on whether such a scheme would be designed to be either revenue neutral or congestion neutral. A revenue neutral scheme would replace (at least in part) petrol and vehicle taxes, and would be such that Treasury revenue under the new scheme would equal the revenue from current taxes. A congestion neutral scheme would be designed so that growth in congestion levels would stop as a result of the new charges; the latter scheme would require significantly higher (and increasingly higher) charges than the revenue neutral scheme and so would be unpopular with the UK's 30 million motorists. The carbon emission consequence of moving from fuel duty to a charge per mile has been raised as a concern by some environmentalists, as has any diversionary response from heavily trafficked (and hence more expensive) roads.[specify] The UK government announced funding for road pricing research in seven local areas in November 2005.
In June 2005, Transport Secretary Alistair Darling announced the current proposals to introduce road pricing. Every vehicle would be fitted with a satellite receiver to calculate charges, with prices (including fuel duty) ranging from 2p per mile on uncongested roads to £1.34 on the most congested roads at peak times.
A 2007 online petition against road pricing, started by Peter Roberts and hosted by the British government attracted over 1.8 million signatures, equivalent to 6% of the entire driving population. Over 150,000 signatures were added during the last day before the petition closed on February 20, 2007.[specify] In reply, the prime minister e-mailed the petitioners outlining his rationale, denying that the proposals were to introduce a stealth tax or increase surveillance, and promising 'debate' before a decision was made as to whether to introduce a national scheme. Also, in a recent poll 74% of those questioned opposed road pricing.In July 2008, Roberts started the Drivers' Alliance, a mass-membership organisation dedicated to researching the issues surrounding road pricing and campaigning against its introduction.