Tories' green plan slated by all sides
LONG-AWAITED policy proposals from a Tory environment group came under attack from critics as diverse as green campaigners, the aviation industry and even some Conservative members yesterday.
The Conservatives' "Quality of Life" report was widely criticised, with spending watchdogs warning families would pay more tax and campaigners expressing dismay at a lack of provisions for renewable energy.
Roger Helmer, a Tory MEP, described the proposals as "half-baked", adding: "The whole approach is anti-Conservative."
David Wilshire, a Tory MP whose constituency includes part of Heathrow Airport, said there was little point "fiddling on a unilateral basis [while] the Chinese open another 49 airports".
But David Cameron, the Tory leader, hailed the report and insisted many of its proposals would be included in the Conservative Party's next manifesto.
Mr Cameron also hinted at more taxes for the aviation industry. He said that while flying was a matter of individual choice, aviation was under-taxed. He added: "If you want to be serious about climate change, you have to be serious about aviation."
Responding to criticism that green taxes were a revenue-raising gimmick, Mr Cameron vowed that the cash would be ring-fenced and offset by a reduction in "family taxes".
Zac Goldsmith, the millionaire ecologist who co-authored the report, insisted there was no choice between the economy and environment. But his report contradicted one produced by senior Tory John Redwood, which said airport expansion was crucial for economic growth.
The British Wind Energy Association said the Tory proposals would end all support for the onshore wind - and cripple the UK wind industry overnight.
Meanwhile, Andy Burnham, chief secretary to the Treasury, said the Tories would have to raise "eye-watering amounts" from green taxes to reduce the burden elsewhere.
And Brian Wilson, the former energy minister who now chairs Flying Matters, an aviation lobbying firm, said the proposals for extra taxes would amount to an extra 50 for a family of four travelling from Aberdeen to London.
Easyjet and Flybe bosses also criticised plans for a rise in air passenger duty.
WHAT THE REPORT RECOMMENDS
• New top band of Vehicle Excise Duty for "gas-guzzling" 4x4s and graduated tax based on emissions for new cars.
• VAT on tickets for all UK domestic flights. Air Passenger Duty to be per flight rather than per passenger charge. Reduce airport expansion.
• Cut stamp duty and lower council tax for greener homes, lower rates for green offices.
• Encourage councils to enter contracts for commercial waste that have the same recycling targets as domestic waste.
• Change OFWAT's remit to ensure that it is concerned with conservation.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Tuesday 18 June 2013
Temperature: 10 C to 21 C
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Wind direction: South
Temperature: 10 C to 19 C
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Wind direction: West