Friday, March 23, 2007

Budget 2007

Gordy's green measures in a nutshell:

• Duty on fuel will rise by two pence per litter (ppl) for 2007-8, with the change being deferred until 1 October 2007 (which will continue until 2009)
• Vehicle excess duty (VED) will be increased on the most polluting cars (band G) to £300 in 2007-8 and £400 in 2008-9
• Low carbon vehicles in band B will be subjected to a reduced VED of £35
• 20ppl biofuels incentive has been extended until 2009-10

• Tax breaks on Liquid Petroleum Gas will be increased
• Rules will be relaxed to help small biofuel producers bring products to market and remain efficient
• A two per cent discount will be given to company cars using hi-blend bioethanol will be permanently reduced on biofuels used in off road transport such as trains.

• Householders generating their own wind or solar power through the use of technology, and selling it back to the electricity companies, will not be subject to either income or capital gains tax on any payments received
• An additional £6 million will be used to help develop low carbon homes
• Pensioners without a central heating system can receive an additional discount of up £300 when installing a new system
• Any new home (up to the value of £500,000) deemed to be "zero-carbon" will be exempt from stamp duty
• Any homes meeting this criteria over £500,000 will receive a reduction in stamp duty of £15,000

• From 1 April 2008, until at least 2010-11 the standard rate of landfill tax will be increased by £8 per tonne
• The lower rate which applies to inactive waste will also be increased to £2.50 per tonne
• The fund available to redress the cost of landfill sites on local environments will be increased by £5 million taking the total to £65 million for 2007-2008

Other highlights
• £800 million to help support overseas development in the areas of environmental protection and the reduction of climate change
• Increase funding of research and development into environmental technologies through public-private partnerships to £800 million by 2008
• To encourage the use of low energy light bulbs the government has suggested to the European Union that a reduced rate of VAT be applied to energy efficient products
• An enhanced capital allowance will be payable to companies that develop energy saving technologies but are not in taxable profit to encourage growth in this area
• A competition will be launched to develop a full carbon capture and storage programme

Whilst these cautious proposals are a welcome, yet so much more still needs addressing. Transport for one has been sidestepped. Growing aviation was not addressed (especially in light of yesterday's open skies aviation deal which will bring an anticipated 50% increase of transatlantic air travel over the next five years), nor was the need for investment in better public transport infrastructure to encourage drivers to forsake the car for attractive alternatives. There is still the need to tackle waste at source - introduce a plastic tax and retailers will reduce their packaging overnight. In the home, further incentives will be needed to help off set the high initial costs of installation, and existing stock has not been brought under the same umbrella as new homes.

This Budget reminds me of 1970's transport caf food. It was served up with a bit of wilting garnish on the side - gave a bit of colour but was in reality of little additional substance. Problem is, now that I understand the nutrient value of a good bit of greenery, I want the full-on salad experience to go with my meat. Gordon, if this is an indication of your leadership on environmental issues you need to think more like that other Gordon. Be more like Mr Ramsay: bold, brave and without the bulls**t.

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