TOLL charges on the Itchen Bridge could be scrapped as early as next year – but only for electrical vehicles.

Environmental chiefs plan to introduce a new toll category for eco-friendly motorists, allowing them to cross the pay-per-use bridge for free.

The move could save the average daily commuter around £250 per year.

It is also forecast to cost the authority around £32,000 each year in lost revenue.

But civic chiefs say the scheme could save the council millions of pounds in fines, which it faces if it does not slash the city’s dangerously high pollution levels.

Councillor Chris Hammond, cabinet member for sustainable living, said: “If the city does not reduce its pollution levels then the government could be fined and those fines will be passed down to us.

“What we are trying to do with this is to encourage people to take on electrical vehicle.”

Last year, there were around seven million crossings made on the Itchen Bridge, bringing in an estimated £3.2million per year for the council.

Civic chiefs say around one per cent of cars across the country are electric – meaning just a fraction of Southampton residents stand to benefit from the scheme.

However, transport bosses predict electric car usage will increase to three per cent by 2020.

And if electric cars do take-off, councillor Hammond says the scheme could be revoked.

He added: “If 80 per cent of people are driving electric cars then maybe we will have to look at it again.”

The scheme, to introduce a new toll category, will be discussed by the council’s cabinet next week.

It will then be put to a public consultation in the new year.

If accepted, civic chiefs hope to introduce the free crossing for electrical vehicles by March 2018.

The scheme is part of a wider package by the council.

The authority already offers 90 per cent discount on season ticket parking for electric vehicles, bringing the cost down from £1,200 per year to just £120.

Civic chiefs also hope to install 25 new electric charge points across the city’s multi-story car-parks by next March.