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Business need not fear Tory eco tax plans, says Norris

Date: 13 September 2006


The Conservative Party's new plans to increase the proportion of taxes that are green-related will not affect company drivers as much as private ones, said its leading transport advisor.

Steve Norris, who heads up the transport section of the Shadow Government's "quality of life" policy group, exclusively told BusinessCar: "It's not about paying more tax but about paying tax with reference to carbon effect. UK company car drivers have led the way in CO2-emissions-related tax so UK fleets shouldn't have too much to fear from our proposals."

However, Norris did concede those proposals would include hiking fuel and other related transport taxes for both cars (and planes) to reflect their true environmental cost. Norris said that under a future Tory Government "Airlines should not be allowed to have this huge [fuel tax] advantage and motoring will have to become more expensive compared to public transport".

Last year's Department of Transport figures claimed the cost of motoring had dropped 11% in real terms between 1975 to 2004 while bus and train fares had risen by up to 70%.

Norris's words echo those of the Shadow Chancellor George Osborne at the start of this month when he outlined a framework for future Conservative Party policy based around "a greater proportion of taxation raised through green taxes".

He told an audience in Tokyo: "I believe we should move some of the burden of taxation away from income and capital, and towards taxes on environmentally damaging behaviour. Instead of a tax system that penalises hard work and enterprise I want to move towards more effective and fair taxes on pollution."

Osborne cited the example of 'Japan's emissions revolution' that despite having a more industrial economy now emits 90 tonnes of carbon per million dollars of gross domestic product compared to 125 tonnes in the UK.

Euro CO2 emissions timetable
YearAv. new car CO2
Source: European Commission
Notes: * Actual European average ** EC targets ***Tory target
He also outlined "a visionary Conservative policy to reduce average emissions from cars to under 100 grams per kilometre for all new cars by 2020, and for all cars by 2022". The European Commission's annual report on new car emissions showed a fall of 12.4% from 1995 to 2004 to a new car average of 163g/km CO2 but stressed that more work was needed to achieve the 2008/9 140g/km target.

The Tory plans will be debated at the party's October conference and if agreed could be official policy by next summer.