'Alternative budget' seeks fuel duty rise to fund clean air


Campaigners have called for the Autumn Budget to increase fuel duty and channel the proceeds into the Clean Air Fund. 

The Campaign for Better Transport has published its Alternative Transport Budget, with proposals for transport taxation and spending policy ‘to promote sustainable transport, improve air quality, and reduce emissions’.

Stephen Joseph OBE

Chief executive Stephen Joseph said: ‘The Budget offers a chance to address the problems underlying the UK’s transport system: congestion, pollution and social exclusion from over-dependence on road and air transport. We’ve set out here some proposals for taxation and spending which can take the country in the right direction.’

The alternative Budget calls for priority to be given to investing in the management and maintenance of existing roads and to improving local transport, with the forthcoming National Road Fund targeted at fixing the backlog of road repairs.

It also calls for the Government’s promised Clean Air Fund to be given ‘significant resources' to pay for the measures needed to cut air toxic pollution, including paying for sustainable transport, ‘making a success of Clean Air Zones’, and a targeted diesel scrappage scheme.

The report does not state what would constitute a ‘significant’ level of funding. It does however recommend reinstating the fuel duty escalator, which provided above inflation annual increases, and that duty on diesel should rise faster than duty on petrol.

Its other recommendations include:

  • Establish a Network Development Fund to implement proposals for new and reopened rail lines and stations
  • Improved funding for bus services including a ‘connectivity fund’ to support socially necessary services and a bus bonus scheme for commuters
  • Tackle complex and ever-increasing rail fares with a freeze in 2018 and simpler fares with flexible tickets for part time workers
  • Expand the scope of the Office of Low Emission Vehicles grants to include e-bikes and e-cargo bikes
  • Introduce a surcharge for diesel vehicles in the short-term to discourage the purchase of diesel cars and to contribute to the promised Clean Air Fund - in the longer term move to general road pricing in place of fuel duty and Vehicle Excise Duty
  • Change the current time-based Road User Levy on heavy goods vehicles with a distance-based charge
  • Look at replacing Air Passenger Duty with a Frequent Flyer Levy

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