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Reaction continues to Chancellor's 4x4 tax

[Friday 24 March 2006]

One countryside campaign group is heaving a sigh of relief as reaction is continuing to Government plans to increase taxation on new 4x4 vehicles.

There was concern that the Chancellor would place a blanket tax on all four wheel drive vehicles - something that would have a serious impact on farmers in the Yorkshire Dales.

But Gordon Brown decided that an increased level of Road Tax would apply only to new 4 by 4s, giving a temporary reprieve to farmers, at least until they replace their vehicles.

Angus Collingwood-Cameron speaks for the Country Land and Business Association:

"We're very much relieved. We were worried and had been lobbying against any punitive taxation on 4x4s which seemed to be designed for people living in towns but of course would end up penalising rural dwellers who need 4x4's for their business requirements and even just to get around."

The measured response of the CLA comes after the Countryside Alliance launched a scathing attack on the Chancellor, saying he is making "rural communities pay for Chelsea Tractors" - the name given to those 4x4's used in London and other urban areas for nothing more than the school run.

David Fursdon, President of the CLA said: "Farmers and those working and living in rural areas who currently have four-wheel drives will not be immediately affected.

"However, future purchases of such vehicles by rural businesses would have to take into account these additional costs, but these are likely to be tax deductible in any case.

"So we think the 'Chelsea Tractor' issue is a diversion from the real struggles being faced by those in rural communities."

Environmental groups were not quite so impressed with the Chancellor's statement. Friends of the Earth described the decision to increase Road Tax for the most polluting vehicles to £210 as "utterly inadequate."

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