Chancellor under fire for backtracking on environmental promises

The all-party Commons environmental audit committee said that in key areas including taxes on pesticides, aggregates and fossil fuels , the government had backtracked on last year’s pledges.

It said that there should be a pesticides tax and condemned Brown for dropping the idea for the fourth coming budget ‘on the strength of industry proposals and on which no wider consultations have taken place’.

It also criticised the government for failing to make progress on an aggregates tax to promote the greater use of recycled stone and refurbishment of existing material.

The committee is also concerned that proposals for the Climate Change Levy are over-complex and do too little to adopt absolute carbon dioxide reduction targets.

It added that it is concerned at the abandoning of the fuel duty escalator without a proper assessment of its environmental effects, in particular on the governments programme to slow down global warming.

The committee said the government approach in these areas has been inconsistent and that its proposal for Green Tax Commission would resolve the problem.

Tory chairman John Horam said: ‘Budget 1999 was the greenest ever but the follow through has been unsatisfactory. Overall, consultation, research and consensus building have been inconsistent casting doubt on the government step commitments to environmental tax reform.’

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