A rider who got caught out by a £500 fine for unknowingly driving her lorry in a low-emission zone has warned others to be aware — and is shocked at the size of the penalty.
Karen Whittaker drove from her home near Rye, East Sussex, to a venue in north Kent on 3 May. A week later, the notice of the fine arrived in the post.
“It was my box and I went through the zone but I was totally ignorant of it,” she told H&H.
“I’m 41 miles from that venue and don’t normally go that way but there was nothing else on and I wanted to do a bit of dressage.
“I did live in that area when it came in, and there used to be a sign as you entered the London borough but I had a car and trailer then. However many years later, I’m driving the lorry up there and there were small signs but they just weren’t on my radar.”
Karen appealed online and six weeks later, the reply came back to say the fine stood.
“It said sorry but nothing we can say; you did it and it doesn’t matter you’ve never done it before, you have to pay up,” she said. “It’s £500 and if you don’t pay in 14 days, it goes up to £1,000.
“I’m in the legal business and no one’s above the law, and ignorance is no defence, read the Ts and Cs, I know I can’t get out of it. But my beef is with the size of the fine; you’d get less of one for mugging an old lady or vandalising a house.”
Mote End Farm and Livery Stables in London has found an innovative way to beat the low emission zone for
H&H has reported on the introduction of low-emission zones elsewhere, and the effect these will have on equestrian centres within the chargeable areas.
“I don’t have to go to that venue but for people who live nearer, and going there would take them just over the border of the zone, they’re not going to go,” Karen said.
Have you been or will you be affected by a low-emission zone? Email email@example.com, including your name, nearest town and county, for the chance to have your letter published in Horse & Hound magazine and you could win a bottle of Champagne Taittinger.
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