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UK Tories To Unveil More Green Fiscal Policy

by Robert Lee,, London

10 September 2007

The UK opposition Conservative Party is expected to unveil an 800-page environmental policy report later this week, the centrepiece of which will be more ideas to encourage more environmentally-friendly behaviour through taxation.

The new report by the Tories' Quality of Life Group, which is led by the millionaire environmentalist Zac Goldsmith and former Environment Secretary John Gummer, contains proposals designed to discourage people from buying fuel inefficient vehicles, and to encourage manufacturers to make white goods, like washing machines, fridges and dishwashers, more energy efficient.

According to reports in the UK media, one of the more radical proposals is the so-called 'showroom tax', which could add up to GBP2,000 to the cost of buying a family saloon car, in an attempt to convince people to switch to more eco-friendly forms of travel, such as hybrid cars.

The report also suggests generous tax breaks for householders who make their homes more energy efficient. These would include a partial stamp-duty rebate, which could help home owners claw back thousands of pounds of stamp duty paid on the purchase of their house, and discounted council tax bills for homes meeting the highest environmental standards.

Other controversial proposed measures include strict regulations on the manufacturers of consumer electronics and white goods which waste electricity - a policy which could clash directly with proposals by the party's economic competitiveness group led by John Redwood, who has proposed sweeping cuts in regulation to the tune of GBP13 billion.

The report's authors argue that the logic behind the proposals is to offer a carrot to consumers and householders to go greener, rather than the stick to those who don't, a theme that has been repeated often by Tory leader David Cameron.

"We want to use the tax system to encourage greener behaviour, not to bleed taxpayers dry," he told the Green Economy Conference in London earlier in the year.

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