Brown set for ‘green Budget’

Gordon Brown is set to deliver a ‘green’ Budget this Wednesday, as the two major parties square up over their environmental credentials.

Drivers of ‘gas guzzlers’ such as 4x4s will be hit by increased tax, with the chancellor expected to double the top rate of road tax to around £400 for the most polluting vehicles. To compensate, the lowest emitting vehicles will be free from excise duty.

Newspaper reports also suggest Mr Brown could encourage households to install carbon-free sources of power, such as solar panels and mini turbines, by allowing them to sell surplus power to the national grid tax free.

Mr Brown is also expected to confirm he has been lobbying Europe to reduce VAT to five per cent on energy efficient consumer goods in an effort to encourage households to make energy saving changes.

The additional excise duty will affect 225,000 cars, including most 4x4s and sports models. However, it will not be enough to satisfy green campaigners. Friends of the Earth are lobbying the chancellor to increase the top rate of road tax to £2,000.

The budget follows Al Gore’s praise for politicians’ commitment to addressing green issues.

Addressing a meeting of shadow ministers, the former US vice-president said: “The fact that both your political parties are competing vigorously to offer solutions is very important. I can assure you that people around the world really are watching and are appreciating the quality of this debate.”