FOE puts Chancellor under pressure over green taxes

Friends of the Earth (FOE) has called on Chancellor Alistair Darling to stick to his pledge to put “sustainability at the heart of the Budget”.

The environmental group is urging Darling to stick to his plans to increase fuel duty amid reports that he is to delay the introduction of so-called “green taxes” to reduce the risk of the UK sliding into a recession.

FOE has also criticised the Government for giving “mixed messages” after Defra recently slashed budgets for key green business advisory and support services following a budget shortfall of £1bn. Business advisory body Envirowise is thought to be the worst affected with its funding for next year cut by 58% compared to 2007/08.

An FOE spokesman says: “It’s a ludicrous way of behaving. Taxes are one thing but spending is critical and the Government hasn’t grasped that concept.”

Car manufacturers are bracing themselves for the impact of taxes on cars that emit high levels of carbon and the possibility that their advertising may be required to outline their effect on the environment. Industry sour-ces say restrictions could lead to motor companies moving their marketing budgets away from television and print ads.

Meanwhile, bingo hall operators are on “tenterhooks” as they wait to learn whether the Chancellor has responded to strong lobbying to ease the tax burden on the industry. Gala Coral chief Neil Goulden says potential closures of halls hinge on Darling’s decision.

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