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4x4 tax now on Government agenda

[Wednesday 15 March 2006]

Plans to discourage four wheel drive vehicles by blanket taxation are rising up the Governments agenda and one countryside group is calling for assurances that such a move won't penalise those living in rural areas.

The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) is worried that such a tax would have a severe impact on rural communities, especially farmers, for whom a 4x4 is an essential tool of the trade.

Douglas Chalmers, Director of CLA North said:

"The people I know do not choose four wheel drive vehicles because of how they will look on the school run, but because they can actually do that run, and the run to the doctor, and to the shops, and to visit their families.

"Surely the current weather conditions alone can justify that. Or because they can tow a trailer, carry large loads, and have good ground clearance to negotiate farm tracks and unmade country roads.

"They have to be multi-purpose because often they have to double up as the farm vehicle and the family car."

The CLA believes that the issue has arisen following a vigorous campaign by one very active group in particular who target the inappropriate use of 4x4's in urban areas.

The Alliance Against Urban 4x4's sprang up in London but has now spread nationwide; the organisation states its primary goal as being 'to make driving a big 4x4 in town as socially unacceptable as drink-driving'.

The group wants to see an increase in taxation on the most polluting vehicles, including increases in Road Tax and the congestion charge in London, as well as an end to the advertising of 4x4's in the mainstream media.

Mr. Chalmers continued: "Why is all the attention being focused on 4X4s when far greater damage is being done to the environment by aircraft and hauliers transporting food unnecessarily long distances? "This is a problem to be dealt with by joined-up Government policies, not just picking on a high profile target.

"Why should rural communities, with limited access to public transport, and with distances to travel to essential services, as well as with land-based businesses to run, be penalised for being safe and efficient?

"Inappropriate use of large vehicles is a localised problem in some urban areas and it is up to local authorities to use the powers they already have to alleviate this.

"A blanket tax because some people don't like 4x4s where they are not necessary would be unfair to rural dwellers to whom they are."

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