Tuesday, 20 March 2007

Will Gordon turn genuinely green tomorrow?

Tomorrow sees Gordon Brown presenting what will probably be his last budget. The rumour mill suggests that he might be substantially upping the level of vehicle excise duty on the worst polluting cars with 4WD vehicles very much in his sights. Such an act might be construed as Mr Brown showing his green credentials. That's absolute rubbish! He has shown no real interest in the environment during his stewardship at the Treasury and his measures are much more concerned with tax gathering than anything else.

Now I am a genuine green in my outlook on life, not a pretend green. And I'm also a realist. So let's examine any proposal to raise road tax on 4WD vehicles. Broadly speaking users of such cars can be split into two groups: firstly there are those who need a landrover, jeep or similar as part of their day to day work. Examples are farmers, foresters and coastguards. Then there are the rest, people who don't have any overriding need for such vehicles but decide for whatever reason to have one, these cars are typified by the phrase 'Chelsea Tractors'.

So looking at the first group, if you are one of the hundreds of family farmers in Devon and Cornwall for instance, the very last thing you need is an increase in overheads particularly when the government has let you down with the ill fated rural payments agency. A landrover is just as much a tool in their work as any other piece of machinery on a farm. So why should they be penalised? As to the other group of users are they going to be put off buying a 4WD? I don't think so somehow! For those who can already afford one with usually a greater purchase price and fuel consumption an extra £4 a week say for road tax is very small beer indeed.

To be fair Gordon may surprise us all tomorrow. But to my way of thinking he has no perception of the motivation of people purchasing 4WDs. Either that or he is looking to appear green. My anger is largely centred on the fact that he is prepared to increase the overheads of people such as farmers who already are very hard pressed financially. I do hope that people can see through his pseudo greenery.

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