Philip Hammond falls short on environment
The CIEH has expressed disappointment around the
Government’s failure to address air quality issues in this week’s budget.
In particular the CIEH had hoped for an end to the Vehicle
Excise Duty (VED) incentive to buy diesel cars by revising the first-year rate
in this budget.
Last month the CIEH joined a coalition of environmental and
health groups who wrote to the chancellor Philip Hammond calling for the
introduction of a new diesel vehicle excise duty. The letter pointed out that
diesel car ownership had risen from 18 per cent in 2001 to 45 per cent largely
through the advantageous VED.
Co-signatories to the letter included Greenpeace, the
British Lung Foundation ClientEarth and Friends of the Earth. The letter stated
‘It is only fair that VED should reflect the extra financial and health impact
that diesel cars have on society…
‘A change to the VED first year rate would avoid penalising
drivers for past choices made in good faith and it would also send a vital
signal to the market about the direction of travel towards a cleaner future.’
There is also disappointment that an anticipated
introduction of a diesel scrappage scheme has also failed to materialise in
this budget. Before today’s announcement the Government had come under
increasing pressure to compensate drivers who had previously bought diesel cars
in good faith.
The budget did however state that the Government would be
working with hauliers to update the HGV road levy to reward those that properly
plan routes and so reduce emissions. There will be a call for evidence in the next
‘The Chancellor stressed that this budget was about investing
in Britain’s future. But when the moment came, he failed to remove Vehicle
Excise Duty incentives for diesel fuels or introduce a scrappage scheme for
older polluting diesel vehicles,’ said Debbie Wood, director of professional
development for CIEH.
‘We will look back at this as yet another opportunity missed
by the Government to improve air quality for the benefit of future
On transport Mr Hammond announced £90m for the North and
£23m for the Midlands from a £220 million fund that addresses pinch points on
the national road network.
He also launched a £690m competition for local authorities
across England to tackle urban congestion and get local transport networks
The chancellor re-announced the sugar tax set at 18 and 25
pence per litre for the main and higher tax bands but warned of a reduction in
expected yield from tax as companies were already reformulating sugar out of
their drinks, resulting in good news for children.
Mr Hammond added that the expected revenue shortfall would
not impact upon the £1bn fund originally allocated to the Department for
Education to invest in school sports and healthy living programmes. The
chancellor also introduced a new minimum excise duty on cigarettes based on a
pack price of £7.35.
‘Less tax being generated from the sugar tax on soft drinks
is positive news,’ said Ms Wood. ‘Producers
have clearly got the message that they need to change their practices and
initiatives are spreading as only today, Nestle announced their chocolate bars
will soon contain less sugar.
‘There is still much work to do on this front and
success will only be achieved if the Government and industry work together to
adopt more effective mechanisms to support healthier food offers.’