23 March 1998

Councillor Mike Woodin, Principal Spokesperson for the Green Party

The Budget, March 1998

We are very disappointed in the Budget, because it really failed to get to grips with the pressing issues. There are one or two measures that do a little bit, like the lowering of vehicle excise duty for smaller cars; increase in the landfill tax, which in our view should have been extended to the incinerating of waste, because there is strong environmental grounds for objecting to that, despite the fact that energy could be generated from it. But what I thought was quite significant was that in talking about the amount of carbon dioxide reduction targets, Gordon Brown talked about the Kyoto target of 8%, not the 20% reduction that the Government had previously set itself. So two things there, one he's deferring action by not introducing carbon taxes or measures to help efficiency, and the other is that he sees to be aiming for lower targets than we thought the Government was aiming for.

The fact that he mentioned the 8% figure from Kyoto and not the 20% figure that was the commitment, or the aim, does seem to show to my mind that they are back-pedalling on that, and given that 20% is woefully inadequate anyway, we are worried that they won't in fact do anything significant. I know they are setting up a think tank, to look at green taxes, but really the problems require immediate action and the failure to do anything substantive in the Budget yet again, is very concerning.

Car Tax

The Green Party's policy is actually to abolish vehicle excise duty and to reclaim lost revenues, and more besides, by increasing the fuel accelerator. We put a submission in to the Government in advance of the Budget arguing for an 8% above the rate of inflation fuel accelerator, because we would like to see, in the use of cars, more of the cost being loaded on to the actual users. Although, as an interim measure, differentiating between car sizes is a useful thing to do. But again, I don't think it's going to have a huge effect.

Differential road fund licence is not an issue we've actually looked at in detail, I must say, because our policy is to abolish vehicle excise duty altogether. Now whether we want to reassess that and contribute to a more detailed debate given that it is clear that the Government is going down the path of differentiating between different vehicles, then probably we will want to take a view on that, but we haven't done so yet.

CO2 reductions by 2010

We have figures to show that we can achieve significant reductions. We are looking at between 60 to 80% reductions by 2010, but we do realise that there simply isn't the political will to achieve that, but that's what we consider necessary.

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