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Shift away from biofuels

Robert Peston | 13:32 UK time, Wednesday, 12 March 2008

The Treasury is raising £550m in 2010-11 – which is not trivial – by removing the biofuels duty differential.

That sounds like a fairly major policy shift away from promoting biofuels.

On the changes to Vehicle Excise Duty, to extract more from owners of gas-guzzlers, that is forecast to raise £465m in 2009-10 and £735m in 2010-11.

So that’s a pretty big incentive to buy a green car.

And as for those increases in alcohol duties, boozers will be £400m worse off next year, £505m the following year and £625m poorer in 2010-11.

Comments   Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 01:58 PM on 12 Mar 2008,
  • Tim Jones wrote:

Less land used for growing biofuels means more room to grow food helping keep the prices down. Good move.

B of E to have 2% inflation target - not relaxing due to credit crunch - good move.

Growth forecast - he's been taking the optimism tablets. Now if he had put a minus sign in front...

Bio-fuels are leading to crops shortages, massive raises in food bills and mass starvation in the developing world.

Not only that but the process of creating fuel from crops is a lot less "green" than refining petroleum from crude oil.

Bio-fuel is also leading to the extinction of the Urangutang.

  • 3.
  • At 02:11 PM on 12 Mar 2008,
  • Richard Booth wrote:

My wife is a childminder and as such has a people carrier for her job but it is also our family car. It is not feasible for her to drive a small car so we are looking at another cost hike. We already pay over £300 a year in road tax and the cost of fuel is a joke. We tried biofuel in the hope that we would save some money and we did until we had to replace the fuel filter because of the biofuel. It seems that we get taxed to the hilt while the efficiency of our services go down. Maybe the government should look in to being more prudent with the monies raised then we wouldn't need tax increase on tax increase.

  • 4.
  • At 02:11 PM on 12 Mar 2008,
  • Steven wrote:

and no mention yet of the increase in the upper limit of National Insurance. An extra £100 per week taxed at 11%, there's another £500plus a year gone

  • 5.
  • At 02:14 PM on 12 Mar 2008,
  • John wrote:

Bio fuels are not the answer to any fuel crisis. Turning agricultural production to biofuels is and will have implications for food production - increased bread and feed prices. What is more important eating or driving?

  • 6.
  • At 02:15 PM on 12 Mar 2008,
  • James wrote:

For how long will voters support a government which scraps a duty incentive on biofuels only for the consumer to cough up? Mondern governments play on their "green credentials" but just how green are they really?

  • 7.
  • At 02:18 PM on 12 Mar 2008,
  • Monkton Mark wrote:

Removal of the biofuel duty differential....... even green credentials out of the window, all to subsidise the spend, spend, spend lifestyle of the current government.

I wish I could leave this country - there is no hope left at all.....

  • 8.
  • At 02:18 PM on 12 Mar 2008,
  • David Kendall wrote:

So this year my VED will be £210 and the year after will leap to £415. Sell the car involved....why I'd love to but who is going to touch it now ?

  • 9.
  • At 02:29 PM on 12 Mar 2008,
  • Giddy wrote:

I ask again - if you are trying to keep a rein on inflation, why scupper yourself by introducing inflationary pressures into the economy such as higher fuel costs?

  • 10.
  • At 02:29 PM on 12 Mar 2008,
  • Mike Wood wrote:

The abolition of the fuel duty differential should be (more than) offset by the introduction of the Road Tranport Fuel Obligation, which is being phased in from next month through to 2010/11.
The amount that the RTFO will cost does not seem to have been included in any of the last three budgets.

  • 11.
  • At 02:38 PM on 12 Mar 2008,
  • George Reubens wrote:

What about LPG fuelled vehicles? I cannot see any mention of the duty on LPG in this budget?

  • 12.
  • At 02:42 PM on 12 Mar 2008,
  • bernard wrote:

Can anyone tell me why most shops.
Put 10p on the cigarettes yesterday, when I fall that bylaw that he asked most their old stock first. After all these years. Why has nobody done anything about it just ain't enough away of the government getting more money

  • 13.
  • At 02:48 PM on 12 Mar 2008,

Am I on a different planet where does inflation of 2% come from. He should come and live at my house to see how much it has gone up to live in this country
Total lack of realistic figures spin spin spin

  • 14.
  • At 02:53 PM on 12 Mar 2008,
  • Nic wrote:

Not all biofuels are grown, I'm currently using recycled waste cooking oils and I resent the amount of duty that has to be paid that stops this oil going into landfills or whatever they would do with it (dump in the sea etc.)
Time for a change were a biofuel is recycled.

  • 15.
  • At 03:07 PM on 12 Mar 2008,
  • Neil Beckingham wrote:

It must be the townies bleating on about biofuels and the impact on food production. Look at our countryside and you will see thousands upon thousands of acres of farm land not in production because of daft European legislation and our grossly out of touch with reality Government.

Get all of our farmland into production - science says it will eat up CO2 and provide the food and fuel we need.

To do this farmers need financial help - they've been bled dry by supermarkets and government failures on BSE, Foot and Mouth, Bird Flu etc etc. And no I'm not a farmer - just an ordinary businessman using science and common sense like most people in our country want to do.

  • 16.
  • At 03:07 PM on 12 Mar 2008,
  • Pete wrote:

More inflation introduced to the economy today added to the train increases in Jan plus the landing charges yesterday. Tax up through the NI backdoor. What a novel way to stimulate the economy?

  • 17.
  • At 03:07 PM on 12 Mar 2008,
  • Steve - Blackpool wrote:

Our Education Suffers, Our Health Service Suffers, Our Elderly Suffer..
We spend More on Social Services than on Education and Health together, does he really believe that an extra £100 will stop some poor old lady from having to decide if to eat or heat ..
GET REAL - its time Politicans salaries were set at the average for their constituancies so that they feel the consequences of their actions or inactions , get rid of all allowances to stop fraud and abuse, fund secreterail services centraly.
THEN - Stop paying child tax credits to children outside the UK (EX-PAT pensioners have their pensions frozen at the level when they retire) - so as non residents - there should be no child tax credits - this would save an estimated £28million, which could contribute to heating and feeding our elderly or improving our education and helthcare.

STOP with the smoke and mirrors - concentrate on where real savings can be made, serve the people of the United Kingdom as you were elected to - Shame on all that support this budget!

  • 18.
  • At 03:08 PM on 12 Mar 2008,
  • Ben wrote:

The bio fuels move is welcome, it was never a good idea. But otherwise there is rather tentative progress to a green budget.

There is no option but to make the most polluting cars more expensive to run, but it would be a good idea for a bit more carrot and less stick.

I would advise the poster above to look at diesel people carriers, the difference in fuel costs is substantial.

  • 19.
  • At 03:10 PM on 12 Mar 2008,
  • M Fletcher wrote:

Darling must be nuts not encouraging biofuels. I smell uncle sams influence. Yes, it is the US that is dumping biofuel on europe at $400/tonne under our cost of production and we seem to be letting them do it. Biofuels should not lead to foods shortages unless the government is admitting its economic illiteracy, as they can be grown (and shoudl be promoted to be grown) on more marginal land in Africa and South America where general foodcrops do not grow. Already food and fuel crop prices are bringing marginal land back into production. The CAP is now out of step again as it is aimed at limiting the 1980's over supply, that is no longer what the world needs. I apprecuiate they want to go nuclear and Im all for that, but combustion fuels are still needed and oil is running out fast. If we do not develop a robust biofuel sector involving balanced production we in for serious problems. The reason is the same as why you cant have nuclear powered airliners or fighter jets, but they can run on bio-kerosene produced from nuts grown in africa, australia and south america's huge unfarmed areas (not rainforests please). We cannot do it in the UK mainstream agriculture we simply cannot handle the volumes in our limited landscape. Cutting the tax differential will merely hand over the competitive advantage to those countries that are prepared to produce and use biofuel wisely.

  • 20.
  • At 03:13 PM on 12 Mar 2008,
  • Jeremy Shotts wrote:

If Ken Hall is such a committed environmentalist, how come he has never learnt to spell Orang-utan?
More seriously I would be very surprised if the recent rises in food prices have anything to do with Bio-fuels at this stage. Probably statistically insignificant. But increases in fuel costs, read oil prices, almost certainly do. So we should be looking at all the options for alternative power sources that we can come up with. No single one alone will provide the solution however. My favourite smile comes from so-called 'zero emission' electric vehicles. Where exactly do people think the electricity is coming from??!!! Now we are going to be reintroducing coal-fuelled power stations as well. But it is still "Nuclear Power? No thanks!" from the back to the middle ages brigade!

  • 21.
  • At 03:16 PM on 12 Mar 2008,
  • Paul Dunford wrote:

Clearing forested areas to grow crops for biofuel is a policy from the madhouse. Left to their own devices the forested areas soak up much more carbon dioxide than the resultant reduction in emissions.

In addition, by turning land over from food production to biofuel crops we are producing a future crisis of starvation in many areas of the world, in addition to food price increases worldwide.

Why oh why do the powers that be not do all in their power to encourage the widespread use of hydrogen as fuel - exhaust - H2O, dear old water.

  • 22.
  • At 03:16 PM on 12 Mar 2008,
  • p.kelly wrote:

What's a Green car then? Lets see:

Trendy option 1: Hybrid, eg. Toyota Prius. Er, actually impossible to achieve stated fuel economy figures, 30% less mpg min.; heavy NiMH battery pack to drag around; mega pollution from battery production processes in far-off Canada(ah sod 'em), expensive, generally naff!

Less trendy option 2: mild-hybrid diesels: er, almost as imposible to achieve stated mpg; extra weight/cost for batteries and starter/generator; extra complexity for servicing and repair; and last but not least, those nasty NOx and soot particulate emissions from diesels.

Even less trendy option 3: diesels with fancy common-rail gear and soot traps and NOx urea catalysts: er, you guessed it, 25% plus real consumption to stated, 10% min. on-cost for soot trap and NOX catalyst; diesel is diesel.

Non-trendy, sensible option 4: IC petrol engines like VW's TSI engines with charging or otto-diesel cycle engines like Mercedes' F700 showcar/engine; no nasty soot or high NOx emissions or traps needed etc..

Now guess which ones of the above get all the media's attention and trendiness. Yeah, the nasty, expensive, dead-end tech., heavy ones.

As to the new gas-guzzling vehicle excise duty hike - £950 for first registration - does anyone in Whitehall or BBC finance journos come to that ask themselves what the effect of this will be on the two last semi-indigenous, highly integrated(i.e. not just a screwdriver assembly operation)car manufacturers, Jaguar and Land Rover, of whose products, 90% or so will come under the new tax? Er, don't you think this will hit sales and jobs? Or don't that matter unless it's a bank?

  • 23.
  • At 03:22 PM on 12 Mar 2008,
  • john young wrote:

"never underestimate the depth of other people's ignorance" comes to mind when you hear comments about food v fuel/ 97% of the world's veg oil production goes to food industry which has been responsible for unchecked deforestation for 100 years yet the biofuels industry, which is setting the highest C&S criteria gets the blame. guess thats why unilever have 10 people on that campaign message

  • 24.
  • At 03:26 PM on 12 Mar 2008,
  • mike wrote:

when will people wake up to the fact that extortionate fuel prices impact on everything not just the cost of running the family car , if you want to drive up inflation ,this is the way to do it!further, duty on fuel is on a percentage (67%)? exactly how much is the government raking in now, the market is increasing the cost very nicely thankyou without the government adding to the misery

  • 25.
  • At 03:37 PM on 12 Mar 2008,
  • Mikael Armstrong wrote:

To all those people who say biofuels are bad, why is that? They are carbon neutral as long as renewable energy is used during their production. A few years ago farmers were being paid not to grow due to food mountains, now we have shortages. There is more than enough land at the moment for growing food, the problem is getting all the land which was set-aside back into production. If there were not, we would ban meat production as it takes far more land to farm animals than to farm crops for food.

The only reason biofuel incentives are being scrapped is so the government does not encourage too much of a reduction in oil use, as it will loose too much revenue if it happens. They are not interested in being green, they just want to be seen to be green.

We are surrounded by coastline and could grow biofuels at sea using seaweed etc. We could have serious action on pushing ahead with fewer planning restrictions for wind farms etc. However none of this would make this government any money.

  • 26.
  • At 03:41 PM on 12 Mar 2008,
  • Dave wrote:

Same old, same old from this tiresome government. Tax the ordinary hard working Britain even more and where does all the money go? If this government had been running a business it would have been bankrupt years ago. Gordon Clown and Captain Darling need to go. Bring on the next election and let the people decide.

Trouble is, what have we got to replace them!!!!!!!

  • 27.
  • At 03:48 PM on 12 Mar 2008,
  • Ray Hill wrote:

Dear BBC,

With regard to to-days lunch time budget program. I would like to comment as an MOT testing station employee.

Firstly, as we check the mileage of each vehicle presented for annual
MOT against the previous years mileage.The average 2.5 2.7 litre diesel 4x4 vehicle, is doing by far, a much lesser annual mileage than the average petrol car.

To raise more duty and onto 4x4 owner drivers only proves that statistics are not evalutated in a rational way.

All Cars, even as low as 1 litre
engined size, can easily surpass a 4x4 polution figure. This is simplicity in itself to understand,
as the average petrol car is by far, doing many times the annual mileage of most 4x4 vehicles.

Most owners of the average car spend much of their life driving "everywhere" !The obesity rate in the various communities is reflective of this as people just drive and never walk anywhere.

The BBC never talks about the annual
domestic/commercial usuage of diesel/kerosene heating systems in most offices and our homes and the resultant Carbon emmision output relative to these systems.?????

When we fill up our domestic heating fuel tanks,possibly a few times per x hundred. How does this equate in terms of fuel used and polution and how does this reflect regarding the overall carbon emmision.Simply put !
It is never even thought about in the same terms as Gas Guzzleing 4x4 vehicles!Why do you not mention the fact that all M.O.D vehicles are Landrover 4x4 vehicles.?

The BBC with their usual,
"Hate the 4x4 Hype" ,is never prepared to reflect on the Big Picture regarding any argument !
Are you, the Population indoctrination tool of this Labour Government? At one time BBC gave an unbiased view point on any issue it raised . Not anylonger ! When are you going to give your viewing public
Fool proof reporting ?

However, Thanks for so many Earth/Natural world programs.
They are truly inspiring.
The new iplayer is great too!



  • 28.
  • At 03:54 PM on 12 Mar 2008,
  • Bryan McGrath wrote:

I'm surprised you haven't mention the PSBR including Northern Rock:
"Britain's Debt Management Office said the government would issue an extra 14 billion pounds of debt in the coming fiscal year, bringing total planned issuance of gilts to 80 billion pounds -- a record in nominal terms."

It is a good job Gordon Brown hates the Euro, 'cos they would not let Britain in given this leave of PSBR.

Lets face it Germany and France are better run countries than Britain. Just wait until the oil and gas runs out!!

  • 29.
  • At 03:58 PM on 12 Mar 2008,
  • Sam M wrote:

Lets face it,
Oil production has probably peeked!! Along with growing demand from western nations and from India and China. Therefore, we are facing growing demand and dimishing supply. It does not matter what new oil reserves are found as they are small in size compared to demand, and all the major oil fields have already been found, and production from all the oil fields is expected to peek in 2000-2015(Known as Hubberts Curve).

Oil affects all means of transportation and goods i.e. for fuel for transportation, heating, electricity, and fertiliser for crops(i.e. wheat).
Therefore, as demand switches away from oil to boifuels(which will never meet current demand) the price of fertiliser goes up as well as crop yields going down.

We need to drastically cut our dependance on oil(as production will fall) by using less, promoting greener alternatives and invest in technology.

Also, our economic system relies on growth year on year, therefore needs a growth in population to provide new consumers/borrowers. This contrasts with a falling birth rate in western nations, therefore relying on migrants who have a different culture and values i.e. growing terrorism at home and abroad.

We therefore need to look at our economic system as can we expect it to grow if this is just going to put pressure on finite resources.

  • 30.
  • At 04:03 PM on 12 Mar 2008,
  • mike wrote:

Gas Guzzler.

My 3.0l BMW is more environmentally friendly than my colleagues 1.8 Modeo.


My car does 25 to the gallon, his does 35.

My car is used for 14000 miles a year his does nearer 35000. Therefore his car is less environmentally friendly.

Maybe i should scrap my car (not very environmental), and purchase a Japanese vehicle with low emitions. However this new car will have to travel 1000's of miles on a cargo ship, and then any part that is required to repair will also have to make the same journey.

Tax petrol that's fair - but everything else should be equal. Including 'congestion charges', Road Tax etc.

  • 31.
  • At 04:06 PM on 12 Mar 2008,
  • Jeremy Bosk wrote:

Not all biofuels are grown on arable land. Aside from recycled cooking fat, jatophra grows on marginal land unsuitable for growing food crops. The wilful ignorance of commentators has already cost jobs at D1 Oils, a British grower and refiner of jatophra.

  • 32.
  • At 04:10 PM on 12 Mar 2008,
  • Ian Crawford wrote:

Ah well, another year, another daylight robbery by the lunatics from Westminster.
Any budget makes sense when you are able to write your own pay rise.
When are people going to wake up to the fact that the politicians are just interested in power and wealth and nothing else.
They can say what they want, cos the meely mouthed press will not upset them by questioning them about what matters to the ordinary person. No wonder people are not voting in elections, whats the point!!!!

  • 33.
  • At 04:10 PM on 12 Mar 2008,
  • Neil Beckingham wrote:

There seems to be a real lack of understanding about the science behind fuels.

The media spin of burning hydrogen and just producing water as a result is wonderful but the reality is that the only available supply of hydrogen is as part of other compounds like water. Extracting the hydrogen from them requires energy (more energy than you can get back out) but nobody thinks about where this energy has to come from.

Just recently there was a lot of hype about a car running on compressed air but as with hydrogen, nothing was said about the source of the energy required to compress the air in the first place.

One of our biggest sources of pollution is congestion. Vehicles sitting stationary or going very slow waste lots of energy. Closing motorway lanes off for use only by cars with two or more in them will just cause more congestion and more pollution.

We desperately need real world workable solutions, not half baked biggoted headline grabbing ideas from the ill informed and unknowledgable - which unfortunatley seems to include most politicans and their so called advisors..

  • 34.
  • At 04:16 PM on 12 Mar 2008,
  • T SWANN wrote:


  • 35.
  • At 04:30 PM on 12 Mar 2008,
  • ken wrote:

bio fuel does not mean solely for the usage of fuel, there are several level of it and other usage of the rest of the product.. the plant itself eg oil palm can be use for cooking food and also fuel, the trunk does used for planks and the rest are for ferterliser and they are even shipped to middle east to grow tomatoes. the seed which can be used to make shower gel and lard, so not only soley for bio fuel. that is only one type of bio fuel. just imagine there are alot more out there plants which does that. it serve not only one purposed but multi purposed to maximised it usability.oh i forgot to add the rest of the leftover are actually used to burn ie it act as burning fuel.. hence nothing goes to waste. I personnaly think you guys dun know you prefer the columbians to plant drugs rather than oil palm? when we are trying to eradicate the drugs?..i think you guys need to go to the roots and get all informations before talking about bio-fuel cos if the plant is so called 100% bio fuel- no one will want to plant it cos it easily burn and there will not be any crops to produce in the first place. there will be other culprits who will burn the other planters estates or plantation in order to cut of competitors.there is a better used of these plants and they can be used as food and as well as bio the end of the day you need fuel to cook food too.

  • 36.
  • At 04:58 PM on 12 Mar 2008,
  • peter wrote:

It would be laughable if it did not affect so many people.
How much longer can this excuse for a government keep conning us.
Last year it was 2p of tax but hidden away was the abolition of the 10% tax band.
So the worst of people in the country see their tax bill increase by 100%. but i expect they can claim income support which means it is taken away and given back again.
Now they want to go green so lets increase the tax on green fuel
Joined up government. What a joke!!!

  • 37.
  • At 05:07 PM on 12 Mar 2008,
  • Tina wrote:

I'd love to own a green car, but where am I going to get the money to buy it?? I am barely affording my mortgage, my gas & electricity bills have gone through the ceiling, and now my new council tax bill has just landed on my doormat!!

Never mind paying more at the pumps - I am paying more at the checkout too. And don't even talk to me about using public transport!! Where I live, First Group have a complete monopoly, and they are screwing Joe Public into the ground.

It must be wonderful to be a politician and not have to worry about how to pay those bills!!

  • 38.
  • At 05:09 PM on 12 Mar 2008,
  • matthew wrote:

If the treasury is raising much needed funds by putting tax on things like booze and ciggs, what will happen one day when these taxes "bite" and there is a genuine reduction in public consumption because of the price on the high street?

How would the government make up this loss of tax revenue? Surely they would never LOWER taxes on either of these items as that sends out completely the wrong message right?

  • 39.
  • At 05:26 PM on 12 Mar 2008,
  • Bill McCormack wrote:

Perhaps the Government have now realised what "Cloud Cuckoo Land" the whole issue of biofuels is.

The problems with biofuels are:
(i) As a fuel they emit as least as much CO2 as fossil fuels, and
(ii) We simply cannot produce enough to replace the fossil fuels we currently burn.

We need to:
(i) Burn less fossil fuels, in fact we must become more efficient on all our energy consumption, and
(ii) Realise that in the short/medium term our only real hope is nuclear energy. Produce electricity at nuclear plants and run everything on electricity.

The fossil fuels will be finished in a few years, we cannot produce enough biofuels. What other options do we have?

Bill Mac

I understand the problem with food and biofuels competing for the sale land area. However, when the oil starts to run out (it's already starting), we're going to have trouble growing food using modern agricultural processes. When the oil runs out, food will run out too, unless we have biofuels to take over from oil

  • 41.
  • At 07:05 PM on 12 Mar 2008,
  • Anonymous wrote:

Very sad indeed. This will kill of the small to medium sized biodiesel industry, and with it local jobs.

To those ranting and raving about biofuels taking up arable land, this isn't true. Small to medium sized independent producers of biodiesel in the UK actually get their source vegetable oil from restaurants and takeaways - that's right folks, it's made from *WASTE* / *USED* oil that would otherwise be tipped down landfill or poured down the drain. They cannot afford to make it from fresh oil - the only ones that can afford to use fresh oil are the oil companies!

  • 42.
  • At 09:58 PM on 12 Mar 2008,
  • N Mayo wrote:

The latest changes to Vehicle Excise Duty have thrown up some serious anomolies.

I do wish that the chancellor would leaves things alone and not keep changing everything. I bought a new car last summer and specifically chose the version of the car that was below 225 grams of CO2, not least because of the VED bands. These have now been changed again and the increase in my 198 g/CO2 car is from £210 to £260 in 08/09. This is virtually a 25% increase. The higher band G increase is only from £400 to £410!

I really don't think it is reasonable to apply these changes retrospectively in this way to purchase choices made under the previously announced bandings. Please please please leave things alone now so that we know where we are.

Furthermore, I concur with some of the other posts here that the VED process ignores the most important variable - miles driven per year in a given car. Other variables include style of driving and quality of maintenance etc, but these are even harder to measure.

In any event the only truly sensible and fair way to both raise tax revenues and encourage environmentally sensible behaviour would be to scrap VED and increase tax on fuel. This then captures fuel efficiency (the primary contributor to CO2 emissions), mileage driven and also driving style etc as the more efficient drivers use less fuel and incur less expense. Simple.

It must also be true that if everyone ends up with a zero rated VED car then the cost of managing the VED process is loss making - so why bother? But then that would mean a government withdrawing a tax/process! Just think of the trees we could save by scrapping VED (including all the paperwork involved)!!!

  • 43.
  • At 10:27 PM on 12 Mar 2008,
  • michele wrote:

I live in a farming area and most local farmers have ploughed every avilable bit of land including old pasture to plant wheat,a large proportion going for biofuels.Wheat for stockfeed is now at least four times the price of eighteen months ago.Farmers have had such a bad time financially that of course they will "jump on the bandwagon",and probably dont mind what it is used for.One comment made was that it will be difficult to bring in to production the setaside land,dont worry it is already ploughed up and seeded!Bio-fuel production allowed unrestricted will of course lead to a proportion,small or large,of certain dual use crops going to the highest bidder,this being true all over the farming areas of the world.Why is anyone surprised?It was ever thus.

  • 44.
  • At 10:40 PM on 12 Mar 2008,
  • Huw Jones wrote:

I agree with Mr Kelly about the ridiculously complicated hybrid cars. THeir fuel consumption is similar my old Renault 4 (which often achieved over 50 mpg at 50 mi/hr) over 100miles between the west midlands and west Somersetin 1974.), and they are much less versatile. The simplicity of the Renault 4, and similar small engined cars, meant that they could be maintained economically at home and always achieved good performance.
The same goes for the pair of Land Rovers I have now. Both do about 5000 miles a year, and the Defender 110 with a 200 tdi engine does between 30 and 35 miles per gallon no matter how fast or heavily loaded. (Our biggest trailer is about 2 tons fully loaded.) The Discovery does 40 miles per gallon. As they are both required to understudy our tractor, carry animals to market or to the vet, fetch animal feeds and fertilizers, and rescue bogged down tourists, there are not many alternative vehicles we could use. Add to that, that they have both done over 200,000 miles over a 20 year life span, and I think that you will agree that their lifetime carbon footprint compares quite well with any of Mr Kelly's trendy eco cars.Will the hybrids still be running in 20 years time?
I am not a bio fuel grower (although our shop is heated with hedge trimmings) but I am disapointed by Darling's retreat from biofuels. These were an opportunity for arable farmers to introduce a break cropinto their wheat fields which would have resulted in higher yields and less need for pesticides in subsequent crops. Instead we will have to get our bio-energy from wheat straw. Hard luck townies, straw is a very bulky material - so lots more nice shiny lorries interfering with your commuting!

  • 45.
  • At 12:17 AM on 13 Mar 2008,
  • Wookey wrote:

A lot of moaning about fuel and VED costs here, but no mention of using a bicycle. Very cost-effective - no fuel, no VED. An awful lot of journeys are less than 8km and many would be quicker on a bike too. No mention of spending more than 0.5% of the transport budget on cycle provision, of course.

And for those complaining about energy prices for the home - get a solar thermal panel. You can have a basic system (instead of the immersion heater) for GBP 700 these days (DIY), which will do half your hot water for the year. That's money very well spent indeed. Professionally installed is 2000 which is harder for most people to justify, which is why the govt should cover it.

As someone mentionned, home/commercial heating is the biggest portion of our energy use and reducing it is very simple - better insulation, solar thermal, draughproofing, low-energy lights, etc, but the govt is doing a pathetic job of making this happen in 40 million households. New build has been much improved, and gas boilers have got a lot better, but things need to be done to the great mass of existing buildings. It would be a lot cheaper than building new power stations.

VED changes are OK, but there are _so_ many things that need doing to green our economy up a bit, and this govt talks an impressive talk whilst doing only the tiniest of things to makeit actually happen.

No support whatsoever for microgeneration, for example, unlike much of the rest of europe which is making significant inroads here.

I'm not impressed, although possibly for different reasons from most posters here.

  • 46.
  • At 12:20 AM on 13 Mar 2008,
  • Charles Purkess wrote:

The "green pretence" of this government to raise tax could produce an inadvertant spin-off for UK business ITM Power, recommend visit

They are at the forefront in producing "enabling technolgy" for hydrogen economy - i.e. cost effective electrolysers 1% of industry standard for generating hydrogen and fuel cells for using the hydrogen to power anything, applications endless..

Bio fuels are nothing but bad news for climate and food- Hydrogen however is a very good way of storing renewable energy that can then be used for power. Only emissions are oxygen and water !!

  • 47.
  • At 12:23 AM on 13 Mar 2008,
  • Just a voter wrote:

It's called a family car for a reason ok, some of us actually NEED one, and postponing the increase in fuel duty until after the school summer holidays isn't fooling anyone. Fuel duty and road tax, I haven't got a 4X4 (they're generally for dim people with no friends) I do have a large car though, but we need it. Married with 3 kids, mortgage (just), 30K. It's not difficult to see who's going to feel those two taxes the most.
As for fags! I quit over a year ago. I know others who want to but need help (I did) why not pass the increase on to the NHS. Drug addicts who commit crimes are going to be let off with community work because they need help, so what about those law abiding people who are addicted to cigarettes and pay outlandish taxes.
Booze! Come on don't be weak. Just stop supermarkets selling cheap alcohol and you'll save loads in policing, NHS costs and street cleaning. Not to mention saving the neibourhood.
I used to be a Labour voter, I want to be one again

  • 48.
  • At 12:32 AM on 13 Mar 2008,
  • john southcott wrote:

There was a tax incentive a few years ago for gas conversions to vehicles-enviromentally much cleaner than petrol or diesel.Unfortunately this has disappeared and the present cost for conversion-approx £1500 plus for the average car-is rather off-putting.It has been popular in other European countries for decades-why not some incentive in the UK?Any mention about it in the latest Budget?
John Southcott

  • 49.
  • At 09:06 AM on 13 Mar 2008,
  • Jon wrote:

I've been fuming about the VED changes for 2009 all night; it's all very well influencing potential buyers at the point of sale, but what is the value of adding these "green taxes" after you've already purchased? (I have a 2005 car that is pre-band G, and would not have bought a band G car after that was introduced). Do they expect us to just scrap our cars and buy Polo Bluemotions? Scrapping isn't enviromentally friendly. Once you've bought the car, it's environmentally friendly to run it for years and years. And this is what I (had) intend(ed) to do.

PS: As a low poluter: low mileage driver, I agree that scrapping VED and more tax on petrol is the only way to be fair - how can we influence governments to see this? For Example, If I have to now pay £400 VED come 2009, and my car is no worthless, I might as well double my mileage!

PPS: I am a cyclist and probably do more cycle miles than car miles in a week.

  • 50.
  • At 09:56 AM on 13 Mar 2008,
  • Mark wrote:

Stop your ignorant whining the lot of you, pity the poor motorist, oh the bas**** government etc etc, adapt! find new opportunities, the fuel escalator will encourage us to use less and thus save money as petrol gets more expensive, as we use less the duty increases so the government can maintain receipts to pay for little Johnny's education! so use the bloody bus you lazy ar** oles! In the long run this system will reduce our dependence on oil by forcing a change in lifestyle because lets face it folks not one of you has made a single effort without needing to be prodded first? Have you?

  • 51.
  • At 10:08 AM on 13 Mar 2008,
  • Roland Girdlestone wrote:

If we are so short of crops why oh why are we still looking at thousands of acres of set aside. Am I missing a point here?

  • 52.
  • At 01:56 PM on 13 Mar 2008,
  • john goddard wrote:

An issue no seems to be considering is
horse exhausts...
Make no mistake this is where this will all end. Edwardian London literally breathed a sigh of relief at the introduction of infernal combustion as most streets were ankle deep in horse poo.
Now his holiness Ken wants £200 a day to drive a 6 year old lorry in London/already we are seeing the costs of everything rise as a result and by the Olympics even transit vans will be clobbered/how long before your diesel car? You read it here first, the horse will return as a serious means of delivery then we really will be in the brown stuff.

  • 53.
  • At 02:52 PM on 13 Mar 2008,
  • Robin Lloyd wrote:

Biofuels are part of the answer to future energy challenges along with wind, wave, solar, fossil, nuclear and improved efficiency. Palm has been implicated in destruction of rain forest and Orang-utans but only 3% of world palm actually goes into biofuel - nothing is said of the other 97% going into food and personal care products.

Current technology biofuels do make use of the food part of the crop (apart from those made from used cooking oil and tallow) but technologies are being developed to make more use of waste products (straw) and the entire organic matter of the plant.

  • 54.
  • At 04:12 PM on 13 Mar 2008,
  • Simon Gallear wrote:

Biofuels have received an unnecessarily bad press and the issues are confued.

There are implications to using biofuels made from fresh crops, but what about waste oil? I convert waste vegetable oil into biodiesel and run both my cars on it. The oil has been used by local schools, restaraunts etc and would otherwise end up in landfill.

The process is simple and does not use any environmentally harmfull chemicals.

Granted, it is not a solution for the nation - there is no 'one size fits all' solution - but it is a posative step - my vehicles run as carbon neutral and stop the oil being thrown away!

  • 55.
  • At 08:09 PM on 13 Mar 2008,
  • Rude Boy wrote:

#46 Charles Purkess

You have made a wild statement about how hydrogen is a "very good way of storing renewable energy".

Please explain how it can be stored efficiently; either monetarily or energy wise.

The sad fact is that hydrogen is an incredibly bad way of utilising energy.
You get less than half of the energy back that you used to generate it in the first place. Much better to use any spare power you have to pump water up to a storage reservoir. That is already being done.

Another often overlooked problem with electrolyzing water is that the water has to be ultra pure. There is significant energy involved in purifying the water so that it does not poison the catalyst used to keep the efficiency up on the electrolyzers.
The most efficient electrolyzers at the moment use platinum as a coating on the electrodes. Any impurity sticks to the platinum and renders it useless.
Consider an electrolyzer as a kettle boiling. The kettle never gets emptied. Water gets added and the water gets boiled away. Impurities in the water just continue to build up and eventually cause the electrolyzer to run even more inefficiently than before.

It is most unlikely that there will ever be a more efficient electrode material than platinum. Perhaps in the years to come unobtanium could be used.
Until then you can believe in smoke and mirrors if you want to but don't expect the public to buy into it.

  • 56.
  • At 09:57 AM on 14 Mar 2008,
  • C.M.Mason wrote:

Bio-Fuels:I lived in Brazil for two years 1980-1982 and our family car was a new estate vehicle which was run on ethenol.We went all over Brazil and had no difficulty in filling up with fuel. The car was efficient and clean-running.A joy to travel in.I cannot believe that successive Governments have dallied so long before realising that petrol power was going to run into severe difficulties of supply:unrest in the hot-spots of the Middle East and Russia not to mention the emerging economies. The subsequent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have served only to exasserbate the problems.What we must do now is pull all troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan thereby lessenig the carbon footprint of war and saving billions plus allowing real life to begin again in these countries, stop pumping money into the African Regimes that are still at war with their neighbours,withdraw funding to those nations like Pakistan and India that are still unable to supply the basic needs of their exploding populations even though the high-caste population are getting rich and richer and concentrate on our own people.We must start to rebuild our own economy by becoming a Nation that is self-sufficient in every way by our own efforts as we did during the last war! It sounds insular, but it is the most prudent way to proceed now in the light of the economic Global downturn. Let us grow for England and feed our people and power our vehicles and thereby feed our own economy. Charity must begin at home.

  • 57.
  • At 07:38 PM on 18 Mar 2008,
  • Yummy Carol Kirkwood wrote:

I think ken (post #35) touched on a very good point: why aren't those countries which grow the source plants for drugs (eg. AFGHANISTAN) encouraged to grow bio-fuel crops instead of coca, poppies, etc? Result: reduced supply of drugs, increased supply of essential combustible fuel. Talk about killing two birds with one stone!

  • 58.
  • At 03:31 PM on 19 Mar 2008,
  • Tom Watts wrote:

THis comment is not on particular item of yours.I saw the item headed Banks - dont panic.
I hold some shares in the banking sector and I have lost count of the times when a rumour is rife about a particular Bank being the target of a possble take-over.Up the shares whizz,only to fall back when the rumour has proved to be false.If people who are supposed to be financial experts behave in this way,who is supposed to not panic?

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