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Businesses brace as costly new laws loom

Date: 22 November 2006   |   Author:

Businesses must reassess their future transport plans after the Government's new environmental and congestion legislation was confirmed for next year's agenda.

That's the key message coming out of last week's Queen's Speech that opened a new session of Parliament.

The speech set out plans to tackle climate change and congestion - including advancing nationwide road charging plans - as well as pushing through the long-debated Corporate Manslaughter Bill.

The good news on climate change is the Government is planning to use the long-term target of cutting CO2 emissions by 60% by 2050, rather than the more immediate annual reduction targets campaigned for by environmental groups.

The speech was met with muted acceptance within the industry. "Reducing vehicle emissions is a key part of the overall Government agenda," said David Yates, boss of leasing firm ALD Automotive. "As a result fleet decision-makers must conduct a root and branch review of the environmental impact of their vehicle operations."

"Hopefully, companies are beginning to recognise that reducing emissions at source is the key, whether through a combination of reduced business mileage, operating vehicles with lower CO2 rating or through improved driver techniques."

The road charging issue is a more contentious one. The Forum of Private Business has expressed concerns over the narrow policy of simply pricing people off the road to cure congestion.

"Our members are particularly concerned about the effect such schemes have on their custom," said FPB chief executive Nick Goulding. "We need to make sure alternatives to road use are in place. Above all, we want to avoid the Government using remedies such as road pricing as another revenue raiser."

The Queen's Speech outlined the Government's major priorities over the next year, although there's no guarantee on how many of the 29 bills named in the programme will become law over the next 12 months.