Motorists rejoice but Greens upset by tax freeze

Click to follow
Indy Politics

The motoring lobby yesterday received some pre-election cheer from the Chancellor when he revealed that fuel tax would be frozen.

The motoring lobby yesterday received some pre-election cheer from the Chancellor when he revealed that fuel tax would be frozen.

But Gordon Brown's decision angered the environmental group Transport 2000, which said motorists were being encouraged to drive as much as they liked and "never mind the consequences".

Mr Brown said he was prepared to shelve government policy - which dictates that duties should rise at least in line with inflation - because of increasing oil prices. The average cost of unleaded petrol is now around 84.5p a litre compared with 76.3p a year ago. Duty increases proposed by the Chancellor earlier this year would have added 1.9p a litre to the price of low-sulphur fuel and 1.5p to sulphur-free petrol.

Steve Hounsham of Transport 2000 said he was disappointed "but not surprised" that the Chancellor had dropped the fuel duty increase. "The increase would have been minimal but it sends a crucial message to motorists. That message now is, 'carry on driving as much as you want and never mind the consequences'.

"But road traffic is responsible for a fifth of climate- change emissions and that is now set to get worse. The UK leads the world in rhetoric on climate change but when it comes to practical action, it is a different matter. This decision is everything to do with a coming election and nothing to do with the environment".

More welcome to environmentalists were measures to accelerate innovation in energy-efficient technologies with the creation of a development fund of £20m managed by the Carbon Trust. Next year climate change was to be a priority for the UK presidency of G8, the group of the world's leading eight industrialised nations, Mr Brown said.

Comments