The chancellor has failed to grasp the severity of the UK’s air quality crisis. He should have imposed a first-year tax on diesel vehicles. Instead, he merely froze vehicle excise duty for hauliers and HGVs and made no distinction between petrol and diesel cars, with Vehicle Excise Duty for all cars going up by inflation rates.
ClientEarth CEO James Thornton said: “In today’s budget the Chancellor has missed a golden opportunity to tackle toxic air in the UK. A first-year charge for new diesels would have been a strong signal that this government has woken up to the public health crisis of air pollution. Despite being ordered twice by the courts to take urgent steps to tackle the country’s air pollution crisis, it seems the Treasury has still not grasped the urgency of the situation. We fear that government plans, which are due out next month, may well fall short of what is needed. ”
Hammond made no mention of the air quality crisis in the UK in his statement to MPs. The only mentions of the air pollution crisis were in the written budget documents released on the Treasury website:
“The government is committed to improving air quality, and will consult on a detailed draft plan in the spring which will set out how the UK’s air quality goals will be achieved. Alongside this, the government will continue to explore the appropriate tax treatment for diesel vehicles, and will engage with stakeholders ahead of making any tax changes at Autumn Budget 2017.”
A second mention declared intended spending on new technologies for electric vehicles.