A MASSIVE consultation on controversial plans to introduce higher parking charges in the Capital for gas-guzzling cars is set to get under way.
City leaders have sent out more than 60,000 letters to permit holders and residents in the city's controlled parking zones to get their views on the controversial scheme.
The letters highlight the different types of pricing categories in the new initiative, which would see the cost of parking permits double for the most polluting cars.
It would mean some motorists would see the cost of an inner zone permit double from the current 160 a year to 320, but drivers of the least polluting vehicles in the outer zones could see their charge fall from 80 to just 15.
The council insists the proposals would not mean it would make any more money out of the permit scheme. The consultation will last until December, with a decision likely by February next year.
Driving groups today called on the council to abide by the outcome of the consultation and city leaders insisted it was not a "rubber-stamping exercise".
Councillor Steve Burgess, the city's Green Party environment spokesman, said it was a relatively conservative scheme that would benefit the majority of most vehicle owners.
He said: "I've proposed this idea because it will give an incentive for residents with the most polluting vehicles to move to more efficient, less polluting vehicles, and send a clear signal that this council is serious about tackling the city's contribution to climate change.
"At the same time, parking permit charges will be reduced or remain the same for the vast majority of residents.
"It's a win-win idea that is already working in other parts of the UK. I'd encourage anyone who is concerned about climate change to support this idea and respond."
Council chiefs estimate around 66 per cent of current residential permit holders would pay less under the proposed scheme, 14 per cent would see no change and 20 per cent would pay more. Residents would also face higher charges for second vehicles.
Bruce Young, the Lothian and Borders co-ordinator of the Association of British Drivers, said: "I hope that the politicians will abide by the results of the consultation.
"The association is firmly against any parking restrictions that are discriminatory. Some people require larger cars for their particular jobs or lifestyles, and should not be discriminated against."
The gas-guzzler proposals will also be discussed at neighbourhood partnership meetings being held over the next few months.
Councillor Phil Wheeler, the city's transport leader, said: "The large scale of this consultation exercise is an indication of how important the council feels it is that we listen to the public's views on these proposals.
"This is certainly not a rubber-stamping exercise, and the results of this process will affect whether or not they are actually introduced.
"The consultation results will be fed back to the transport, infrastructure and environment committee as part of the process at a later date."