Sue Bates – Clean Air Campaigner Friends of the Earth


The health and climate change impacts of petrol and diesel fuel are hugely damaging, so fuel duty must rise to deter road use. However, in order to be effective and practical this change should not happen on its own. The transport system currently leaves little in the way of a viable alternatives to travelling by car. Many areas of the UK have to cope with woefully inadequate public transport along with near non-existent electric vehicle infrastructure. We need to see more investment in reliable and affordable public transport, as well as improved infrastructure to make walking and cycling a safe and enjoyable way to get around, and support the continuing upward trajectory of electric vehicles with better, more practical charging facilities. Opponents would argue that an increase in fuel duty is an unfair cost to drivers, but what about the money being spent by taxpayers to deal with the health impacts of polluting engines? A recent study revealed that pollution from cars and vans is likely costing our NHS and society in general more than £6 billion per year. It’s also important to remember that it is drivers who can be exposed to worse air pollution than cyclists and walkers. The days of the internal combustion engine are numbered, and it must be confined to the history books in the same way as lead paint, asbestos or smoking on aeroplanes. The solutions are out there, and for the sake of our health and that of the planet’s we need to make them a reality.

Quentin Willson – Motoring Journalist and FairFuelUK Campaigner


Sneakily, the Government has leaked plans to raise fuel duty in the next Budget. This is a test of public opinion as they look for ways to pay for the desperately needed increases in funding for the NHS that they have recently announced. At FairFuelUK we’ve been lobbying to keep duty down since 2011 with great success. We’ve argued that lower fuel costs keep inflation and interest rates down, stimulate economic activity and create jobs. The CEBR has done research to prove the benefits of all those duty freezes and they’ve contributed to a rise in GDP of 0.5%. Not bad in an era of flat growth. But to raise duty now with such a volatile oil market means we’ll all end up paying more for everything because 95% of what we buy has to travel by road. The unintended consequence of a duty rise would be to sabotage our fragile economy just when its looking rather off-colour. Supporting the NHS is important, but FairFuelUK says we’d be better looking at reducing our foreign aid and EU contributions instead of damaging economic growth at home. Fortunately, we’ve got 165 cross-party MPs who agree that UK businesses and families can’t afford more expensive fuel right now. There’s been a solid backlash in parliament against The Treasury’s idea, so fingers crossed, common sense will prevail. If The Treasury won’t listen they could lose many of those marginal Conservative seats and with them the next election. This is a serious political gamble.