Green measures first to go

Here we go again. Suddenly the issue of a little bit of extra tax on fuel inefficient cars is being ‘got up’ by the motoring lobby into a big issue, helped by a few myopic MPs.
It is particularly dispiriting that any vaguely ‘green’ policies are immediately in the frame to be ditched as soon as the economic situation gets the slightest bit rocky. Yes, sure, it is a bit unlucky that a few people bought cars some time ago which are now being taxed at a higher rate. But the notion that this is a regressive tax, akin to the 10p fiasco, is just sheer nonsense. The amounts of money are relatively trivial and, in any case, poorer people tend to have smaller cars. The new road fund tax was designed to begin a process of charging gas guzzlers more, thereby encouraging more efficient cars, an obvious way to help people save money in the long run, as well as helping the environment.
Moreover, what is most depressing in the current climate is that no one seems to be prepared to stand up for the notion that, yes, possibly motoring costs will be higher in the future and that means that people may have to travel a bit less. As it is, the cost of petrol in real terms is still only just above what it was after the 1974 oil crisis and, in terms of the damage motoring does to the environment, it is still far too cheap.
If only the government was prepared to say – yes prices are going up, but we are going to step up our investment in public transport to ensure there are more buses, trams and trains – then the public would be prepared to accept the rising costs. However, ministers just sit on their hands and pocket the extra money, and therefore it is totally understandable that people are cynical about ‘green’ taxes.

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