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British Drivers In Uproar Over EU Plans For Climate Taxes

British drivers face being hammered by taxes from Europe to pay for climate change policies. The plans include controversial road pricing and higher levies on fuel.

A 99-page study commissioned by the European Union says “aggressive policy measures are vital in reducing transport emissions”. It favours imposing the same measures across the continent – a move critics say would further erode British sovereignty.

Last night Peter Roberts of the Drivers’ Alliance, which organised an anti-road pricing petition that attracted 1.8 million signatures, said: “The costs of pollution and congestion are already more than covered by taxation on motorists in this country.

“If you were to apply the same taxation structure to household fuel bills as that used on petrol, domestic bills would rise several hundred per cent.

“This call for more fuel taxes and road pricing smacks of a cultural dislike of personal transport and the freedom it brings.

“If the EU forced through road pricing it would be an affront to the sovereignty of the UK and an insult to the people who have shown their contempt for such measures.”

The report by energy and climate change consultants AEA was carried out for the European Commission’s Directorate General for Climate Action.

AEA says it will be used to help develop the “long-term policy framework for cutting transport emissions”. The aim is to cut emission by about 90 per cent by 2050 compared with 1990 levels.

British motorists have already overwhelmingly rejected road pricing. The last Labour government favoured a scheme where drivers would have paid up to £1.34 a mile on the busiest roads in rush hour.

About 1.8 million motorists signed a petition against it on the Downing Street website.

The new coalition government has since vowed not to introduce road pricing on existing roads.

British drivers already pay some of the highest fuel taxes in Europe, with 65 pence in the pound paid at the pumps going to the Treasury, and £45billion a year in motoring taxes. Only about £8billion is spent on roads.

The AEA report, undertaken for the European Commission’s DG Climate Action between December 2008 and March this year, was launched yesterday.

AEA researcher Sujith Kollamthodi said: “Transport has one of the fastest-growing greenhouse gas emissions trajectories and there is an urgent need to curtail and reverse this trend. Only an ambitious combination of the available policy measures will enable us to achieve the significant reductions needed.”

The report says a combination of technical and non-technical options including road pricing, fuel tax, electric vehicles, bio fuels, energy efficiency improvements and more regulations is needed.

It points out that measures such as including a CO2 charge in fuel tax and using charging by distance may be necessary to combat air pollution and congestion. It adds: “In the longer-term, there might be a case for a carbon tax or emissions trading.”

AA president Edmund King said: “UK drivers have comprehensively rejected road pricing. We are also paying some of the highest fuel taxes in Europe.

“Drivers are choosing smaller and more fuel-efficient cars and driving in an eco-friendly way.

“We don’t need artificial taxation to penalise people into doing they are already doing.

“The last thing any country in a recession needs is more hot air coming out of Europe telling drivers in the UK what to do.”

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