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BBC TwoNewsnight
Last Updated: Thursday, 23 March 2006, 13:45 GMT
Are you a 4x4 outcast?
Ahead of the Budget, it was anticipated that Gordon Brown would penalise drivers of the least eco-friendly cars.

BMW X5

On Budget day he announced that heavy polluting cars would be taxed at a new higher rate of road tax - 210 a year.

Are you the owner of a 4x4, sometimes known as the "Chelsea Tractor"? Or do you cultivate the strongest feelings about such vehicles from behind the wheel of your own, smaller and perhaps greener, mode of transport?

Is the 4x4 driver the latest social pariah?

THIS FORUM IS NOW CLOSED


This is about gesture politics, not a serious attempt at CO2 emission control
Jeremy Garnett
I am indeed a 4X4 owner. But it is a Toyota RAV4 diesel which happily does 34mpg around town and meets European emission levels. There are many other cars which are more deserving of the label "gas-guzzler" - but will they be penalised? Or is it just a chattering classes sneer at 4X4 school runs that drives taxation?
Vernon Moyse, Kings Lynn

This is the Chancellor seeing an easy target, to make him look good and have a go at the middle classes, without caring what happens to Ruralites who need these vehicles. This is about gesture politics, not a serious attempt at CO2 emission control.
Jeremy Garnett, Anglesey

I drive a P reg 4x4 which has been converted to run on LPG but am penalised in having to pay higher road tax than someone who has a new 4x4 running on gas although the CO2 emissions are the same. I want to know why!
Mavis Howlett, Mancheter

Maybe the congestion charge should be increased for these vehicles which would target the worst use of 4x4s rather than a tax which hits users for which 4x4s were designed
Gavin Daisley
Out of curiosity, will the government take away the 4x4s the police drive as that would save taxpayers money in the ever increasing tax prices? They should really think before acting as increasing taxes on cigarettes but not increasing anything on spirits just tells you how this government works. If everyone is intoxicated, who will question the government's poor decision? 4x4s have so far been eco friendly and also safer on the roads.
Captain S Nasser, London

The BBC spends millions promoting the car with smart arsed programmes like Top Gear. All the BBC's journalists seem to be unreflective car users and the BBC does not appear have the wit, the will or the talent base to mount the "balanced" argument it really must do.
Tom Paine, London

I resent being bracketed with these silly people who use these vehicles in suburbia, and I resent being penalised when the vehicle is a necessity
Christine
Firstly I should say that I am a cyclist in London. I am not sure that these plans will have any real net effect on the CO2 output of Great Britain. There are many cases such as farmers, etc, that need 4x4s and the tax is unfair on them. However I also believe that there is no need to be driving 4x4s in central London - maybe the congestion charge should be increased for these vehicles which would target the worst use of 4x4s rather than a tax which hits users for which 4x4s were designed.
Gavin Daisley, London

The idea of increasing road tax on 4x4s as a measure to control environmental pollution is rubbish. If the situation is that bad, measures should be taken to stop the production of those vehicles rather than an easy target - the consumers. These vehicles are heavy fuel consumers and so major contributors to taxes Gordon Brown draws from fuel. The measure is just another attempt by the Labour Government to continue to milk the population dry through taxes. The problem of pollution may not be the car as such because poorly serviced "small cars" could be worst emitters of CO2. What are MOTs for if they do not help to put cars whose CO2 emissions exceed acceptable levels off the road?
Steve, London

This government believes that the planet can be saved if every living (or dead) person is taxed highly enough
Barry Staddon
I live 1.5 miles from the nearest village, up a poorly maintained lane. I have a smallholding which does not warrant the expense of a tractor, so my 4x4 does both jobs. I resent being bracketed with these silly people who use these vehicles in suburbia, and I resent being penalised when the vehicle is a necessity.
Christine, Swansea

The fact that a vehicle has four wheel drive has absolutely no baring on whether or not a car is more or less eco friendly
Angus
Firstly, I'm not a 4x4 driver. The whole debate is used by those on the left as a form of class warfare, as they assume most 4x4 vehicles are driven by the better off middle classes (as they probably are). The fact is most 4x4s have no bigger footprint than a normal saloon and a large proportion are diesel powered and no more fuel inefficient than a full size saloon. If Gordon Brown and the environmental lobby were really bothered about fuel use and pollution, they would try to remove the hundreds of thousands of very fuel inefficient and extremely polluting older vehicles from the roads.
Nick, Nottingham

This government believes that the planet can be saved if every living (or dead) person is taxed highly enough. British subjects have the right to choose 4X4 vehicles as their favoured mode of transport without fear or intimidation. This latest CO2 tax, hatched by a desperate "Labour Think Tank", is further proof that Tony and his cronies are a taxing bunch of phonies.
Barry Staddon, Tewin

Keep buying them then - you'll need them when the ice caps melt and your house is underwater
Leigh Fowler
The fact that a vehicle has four wheel drive has absolutely no baring on whether or not a car is more or less eco friendly and there is absolutely no statistic that suggests that they have caused more injury than any other type of vehicle. As far as size is concerned a Volvo estate is almost as long as a Land Rover and the so called people carriers are just as tall and hard to see around. Raising the tax on 4x4s by 30 per year won't have any effect on their drivers.
Angus, Surrey

You 4x4 people make me laugh. You drive these idiotically sized cars because it's your right to? More people may well choose to purchase a 4x4 in the future as a means of revolt? The woman on Newsnight who said her kids' safety was paramount? What about the future of the planet her precious kids will live on? What about the safety of my kids? What kind of car industry sheep are you? You guys! I work in advertising so I know what I'm talking about. You people are being sold a line. Keep buying them then. You'll need them when the ice caps melt and your house is underwater.
Leigh Fowler, Teddington

Mothers on the school run do not need them - don't their children have legs?
Tim
One must consider the combined effects of SUVs - CO2, smog, traffic congestion, increased danger to pedestrians and other road users. True, they're not the only offenders, but how is that justification for not tackling an urgent problem? Hopefully this is the thin edge of the wedge and more legislation will follow, resulting in more rational transportation patterns and better quality of life all round. We have to start this somewhere, and SUVs are by far the ripest plum for the picking. I for one am ecstatic that politicians such as Ken and Gordon have finally shown the leadership to take on the Mighty Middleclass Motorist.
John, Hampstead

My new 4x4 can carry more than your average car and is built to withstand the terrible state of the roads
John
Whilst I have no objection to those who need them for their livelihood using them strictly only for their work, mothers on the school run do not need them - don't their children have legs? Nor do people who do not strictly need them for their work. These vehicles are tall and wide. They obstruct the view of following drivers and only just fit into parking spaces, increasing the likelihood of having adjacent vehicle bodywork damaged by careless opening of the 4x4 doors. Furthermore, if a pedestrian is hit by one, they are far more likely to be seriously injured or killed than by an ordinary car in the same conditions. Time to be rid of these monsters!
Tim, Manchester

My new 4x4 averages over 30mpg, can carry more than your average car and is built to withstand the terrible state of the roads. If the government looked after the road network then we could all drive cars made of Balsa Wood, but THEY DON'T. Despite getting my money to do so. Therefore I choose to run my Tonka Toy.
John, Aberdeen

What about presenting a balanced report on 4x4s? I use biofuel whenever I can get it, there are two buses PER WEEK in my village and most of the roads are single track and covered in mud. If the government were serious about the environment they would have put into place alternative fuel research years ago and by now we would be all have access to it via BP and Shell garages, etc.
Rosi Flood, Herefordshire

Perhaps SUV manufacturers should give free driving courses to buyers, as some sports car manufacturers do?
Martin
There are far too many 4x4s on the road - I know there are plenty of other performance cars which should be taxed very high too, but these are less popular. Taxing 4x4 drivers more is fair as they aren't needed - just a luxury that is costing the environment.
Steph, Aberdeen

I am a horse riding instructor and I feel that I need my landrover to get to difficult places - up farm roads, tracks, fields, etc. What normal everyday eco car can do that? Also a lot of my family are competitive horse riders - how else would we be able to pull the trailer to shows, etc? The government should have a long think before they do anything.
Pat Dewhurst, Oldham

It would seem that the SUV is an ideal vehicle to compensate for poor driving skills; other road users are forced to compensate for their inability to judge traffic and road conditions. This is perhaps a reason why certain people choose to drive them, as they feel unsafe relying on just their own driving skill in a normal sized vehicle. The failure of some of these drivers to judge the distance from the side of their SUVs, due to the increased ride height over normal cars, can be a serious hazard when encountering them on country lanes. Perhaps SUV manufacturers should give free driving courses to buyers, as some sports car manufacturers do?
Martin, Rural Devon

Some of us living in remote areas actually need 4x4s to do our jobs (I'm a farmer) and to get around (I live a mile from the nearest road). Are we to be penalised along with the posh mums of Kensington and Chelsea?
Harry Simmonds, Rural Yorkshire

Many of us judge 4x4 drivers too quickly - they might otherwise be environmentally very friendly
Christopher
I live in Putney and drive a Landrover, which I would argue is one of the most environmentally friendly vehicles on the road. Firstly it is 30 years old (think of energy and resources saved in not making five additional cars), but more importantly I converted it to LPG a number of years ago - a fact recognised by my council (parking permit is substantially discounted) but not by Gordon Brown (I still have to pay the highest rate of road tax) or Ken Livingstone (new dual fuel cars are exempt the congestion charge, but not the older ones).
Edmund McMahon Turner, London

I wish commentators would stop always referring to "gas-guzzling" cars as 4x4s. There are plenty of ordinary saloon cars, especially the older ones, which are much less fuel efficient than diesel 4x4s. Also, given that the road footprint of many compact SUVs is comparable with that of cars, there is absolutely no justification for continuing to brand them as "social pariahs".
John, Stratford-upon-Avon

Many of us judge 4x4 drivers too quickly. They might otherwise be environmentally very friendly, or they might do just a few miles each year, polluting far less than a cleaner car driver that does many more miles. It's everyone's duty to be cleaner, but I think we should all have a CO2 limit and we should be free to spend this as we wish, be it on flights, 4x4s or whatever.
Christopher, London

Even as a car driver I believe that the 4x4 driver is being unfairly targeted - there are lots of performance cars on the roads that are just as bad environmentally
Mathew Dagnall
To say that the government is again looking in the wrong direction and implementing policy that will be counterproductive is putting it mildly. The simple fact is that increasing road tax for those of us who choose to drive 4x4s may placate the eco-warriors but it will do little to cause any meaningful decline in CO2 emissions. The middle class, who comprise the majority of 4x4 owners, already feel overtaxed and may well choose to purchase a 4x4 in the future as a means of revolt. If the government were serious about the reduction of CO2 emissions, why not look at reducing the enormous jump in short haul airline flights first before taxing the overtaxed middle class motorist?
Matthew, Mill Hill

Even as a car driver I believe that the 4x4 driver is being unfairly targeted - there are lots of performance cars on the roads that are just as bad environmentally and when driven fast, as they tend to be, can cause a lot of damage to other road users, too. Collision Energy = Mass x Velocity.
Mathew Dagnall, Paignton

A specific penalty for 4X4s is a further distortion of the market place that is difficult to balance against the real need to raise fuel consumption by raising fuel tax. Surely the key problem is the use of the vehicle, not the ownership, if I pay for the privilege then I will want to make full use of the ticket.
Malcolm, Loughborough


THIS FORUM IS NOW CLOSED



SEE ALSO:
Predicting Brown's budget plans
19 Mar 06 |  Business
Brown plans cautious budget
18 Mar 06 |  Business



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