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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 December 2006, 22:15 GMT
'Green' tax plans fail to impress
Gordon Brown
Mr Brown raised fuel and air passenger duty
Environmental taxes announced by Chancellor Gordon Brown have failed to impress opposition parties, businesses and green campaigners.

Mr Brown announced fuel duty would rise and air passenger duty would increase from 5 to 10 for most flights.

Shadow Treasury chief secretary Theresa Villiers said she was more concerned by what was missing from the pre-Budget report, such as funding for the NHS.

British Air Transport Association said doubling passenger tax was "a mistake".

The association's Roger Wiltshire said the tax would not encourage the aviation industry to find solutions for cleaner engines.

PRE-BUDGET REPORT

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"The government and ourselves were both agreed for some time that the right approach to environment and aviation was emissions trading.

"Air passenger duty is already paid to the extent of a billion pounds. This announcement today will double that to two billion pounds.

"Not a penny of that is going to be spent on improving the emissions or performance of aircraft," he added.

Low-cost airline Easyjet was also unhappy with the increase in passenger tax.

Chief executive Andy Harrison said it was "a blunt instrument" which treated all airlines the same when they were not.

His own airline "emits 30% fewer emissions per passenger kilometre than a traditional airline" because it used newer planes and flew at 85% full.

"I care about the environment, but you have to keep aviation in perspective," Mr Harrison said.

"The recent Stern review [into climate change] said aviation accounts for 1.6% of global CO2 emissions. So aviation will only ever be a very small part of the answer."

Missing areas

Ms Villiers, for the Tories, said the chancellor should have done a lot more to address some of the big problems facing the country.

"I was very worried about what wasn't in the PBR.

"There was nothing to address the NHS crisis, nothing to address the fact that unemployment's been rising almost solidly for the last 18 months.

"Actually, real take home pay is falling because it's not keeping pace with inflation. There are some real problems in the economy," she said.

Mr Brown also announced that the majority of newly built homes in the UK should be "zero-carbon" by 2016, with an exemption from stamp duty for such houses for a limited period of time, starting next year.

At present, more than a quarter of carbon emissions come from households, adding greatly to global warming.

I want to transform the quality of future homes and galvanise the nation to play their part in tackling climate change
Ruth Kelly
Communities Secretary

Friends of the Earth economics advisor Dave Timms said the environmental campaign group was "disappointed" that the government had failed to show it was serious about "moving to a low-carbon economy".

He said there were no moves on taxing "Chelsea tractors", or any help for people to cut their own carbon emissions, such as reducing the cost of solar panels.

He wanted to see a return to the year-on-year increase above inflation for fuel duty, as well as a 2,000 tax on the cost of a new band G-rated vehicle.

"We would also like to see a quadrupling on air passenger duty for short haul flights - that's where the increase in flights have been," Mr Timms said.

Rebates on council tax to pay for home insulation and solar panels were also necessary, Friends of the Earth said.

'Complex challenges'

However, Communities Secretary Ruth Kelly praised the housing plans.

"Building the homes we need for future generations whilst meeting our climate change goals is one of the most complex environment challenges facing the country.

"The PBR underlines our commitment to meeting this challenge. I want to transform the quality of future homes and galvanise the nation to play their part in tackling climate change."

She said "a package of radical new measures that will move this agenda forward" will be announced next week.

Environment Secretary David Miliband said the pre-Budget report contained important environmental measures both internationally and domestically, particularly in the wake of the Stern report into climate change, the Eddington review into transport and the Barker review into planning.

"I look forward to further work in the months ahead within government and with business, local government and the voluntary sector to maximise the environmental benefit of today's measures."




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