South West London climate groups voice disappointment in Budget

South west London climate advocacy groups voiced concern and disappointment about climate provisions in the Autumn Budget.

The Budget, formally presented to Parliament by Chancellor Rishi Sunak on Wednesday, outlines government taxation and spending plans over the coming year and reviews longer-term economic policy goals.

Issues raised by environmental groups include the reduction in Air Passenger Duty for domestic flights, the cancelled rise in fuel duty, and insufficient funds allocated to improving the energy efficiency of homes.

Richmond and Twickenham Friends of the Earth said: “It is extremely disappointing on the eve of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.

“Bizarrely, the Government is choosing to invest in nuclear power, the most expensive and slowest technology for reducing CO2 from power generation while leaving a long-term toxic legacy for future generations having to manage the decommissioning and waste management.

“A very poor use of public money.”

The group also said that the lack of incentive for drivers to choose other methods of transportation will particularly affect south west London’s already congested roads.

Tim Lennon, borough coordinator of campaign group Richmond Cycling, said: “It’s great to have policy commitments, but now we need to show that more walking, more cycling, more last-mile delivery by environmentally friendly cargo bikes, are things that we really want – and that needs money.”

Peter Willan, Chair of Richmond Heathrow Campaign, estimated a net increase of Air Passenger Duty (APD) of 8% from 2019 levels, taking into account both the cut in domestic flight APD and the addition of a new ultra long haul band for flights of over 5,500 miles.

“It falls far short of what we believe is fair and reasonable,” he said.

“To us, what is so disappointing is not so much the tax failure, it’s the fact that the government and the industry are really wholly refusing to deal with demand and people’s behaviour.”

Richmond Heathrow Campaign have called for an increase in APD in line with the levels of fuel duty and VAT.

Yesterday, Sunak told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We wanted to deliver on a previous commitment to reform air passenger duty, to return to a system we used to have so people in the UK are not taxed twice, which we never thought was right.

“Aviation in general only accounts for about seven or eight per cent of our overall carbon emissions, and of that, I think domestic aviation is less than five per cent, so it is a tiny proportion.”

Sunak also defended the UK’s leadership in climate issues ahead of COP26, pointing out that, in a report published last week, London was named the world’s best place for green finance.

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