Darling announces green policies

The Chancellor has announced plans to tax flights and reduce VAT on energy-efficient products as part of a bundle of new environmental policies.

Delivering his first Pre-Budget Report on Tuesday, Alistair Darling said Air Passenger Duty will be replaced by a tax on flights from November 2009.

He also committed to increasing the use of auctioning for EU Emissions Trading Scheme permits to improve the efficiency of the scheme, and promised incentives for businesses that use microgeneration.

Addressing the House of Commons, Mr Darling said: “We are already the only country to have met our Kyoto obligations – reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by almost a fifth since 1990.

“Next month when the Climate Change Bill comes before the House, we will become the first country to introduce legislation on binding carbon budgets.

“I am today increasing the budget for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to £4 billion in three years’ time to help us tackle climate change and protect the countryside.

“I confirm that includes provision of £800 million a year by 2010 for flood defences.”

Mr Darling added that, alongside the French government, he was writing to the European Commission and other European nations to agree a lower rate of VAT for the most energy efficient products.

Investment in public transport schemes is also expected to rise to £14.5bn a year by 2010 and Mr Darling said he would bring forward proposals to move to greener cars when the full budget is announced next spring.

Environment Secretary Hilary Benn said the measures represented an important step in fighting climate change and they highlighted the Government’s determination to move the UK to a low-carbon economy.

He said: “Today’s announcements build on the policies already in place that provide incentives for businesses and individuals to cut emissions and put the UK on the path to a low carbon future.”

He added: “The changes to how aviation is taxed, moving to the taxation of planes rather than passengers, will encourage airlines to operate more efficiently.”

Kate Martin

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