Row over 'green tax' that could add pounds 25 to gas bills

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The Independent Online
A ROW erupted yesterday over a plan which could add pounds 25 a year to domestic gas bills to meet government pledges on green issues.

Under the plan, Britain's 18 million gas users could be hit by the new 'green tax' which has plunged ministers into open conflict with Ofgas, the industry watchdog. Clare Spottiswoode, its director-general, has indicated she would not be prepared to collect the cash from gas consumers.

Now Labour is preparing to raise the matter as an emergency issue in the Commons tomorrow. Nigel Griffiths, its consumer affairs spokesman, said: 'This is the least effective way of tackling carbon dioxide emissions. Instead, the Government should restore home insulation grants to ensure houses are insulated to Scandinavian standards. This would cut emissions and allow people to heat their homes at affordable costs.'

The 'green tax' plan follows a pledge made by the Prime Minister at the Rio Earth Summit two years ago, that Britain would peg carbon dioxide emissions to 1990 levels by the turn of the century.

The Department of Trade and Industry said: 'The Energy Savings Trust will obviously contribute to reducing the level of carbon dioxide emissions . . . but the means by which the trust will be funded are still under discussion.'