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Green highlights from 2017 Autumn Budget

Despite being overshadowed by Brexit, growth forecasts, housing, and the NHS, there were a few important green announcements in the Chancellor’s Autumn Budget.

Despite being overshadowed by Brexit, growth forecasts, housing, and the NHS, there were a few important green announcements in the Chancellor’s Autumn Budget.

Some hoped for announcements on carbon tax on the power sector and the budget for clean energy subsidies did not materialise, but moves were made towards greener transport and dealing with the environmental impact of disposable plastics.

Vehicles

After the government’s long-awaited Air Quality Plan, published in July, firmly placed the blame for urban air pollution at the door of diesel emissions, it was only a matter of time before action was taken to reverse some long-standing tax incentives for diesel vehicles.

Philip Hammond’s Autumn Budget partly delivered - announcing that first year vehicle excise duty (VED) tax will go up by one band from April 2018 for new diesel cars that fail to meet “the latest standards”. The change will only apply to cars, not goods vehicles. The existing diesel supplement in company car tax will also increase by one per cent.

The money raised will help to provide a £220 million fund for clean air measures in towns and cities.

However, fuel duty for both petrol and diesel will continue to be frozen for the eighth year in a row.

To encourage more people and businesses to take up cleaner vehicles, £500 million will be plowed into incentives for electric cars - £400 million for electric charging infrastructure, and £100 million more for plug-in car grants

The government will also make sure all new homes are built with the right cables for electric car charge points.

Plastics

With the environmental impact of plastic packaging high on the public agenda, the Chancellor announced moves towards a new tax or levy on single-use plastic packaging, such as disposable coffee cups, takeaway boxes, bubble wrap and plastic straws.

The move would build on the hugely successful plastic bag levy, which has seen the usage of plastic carrier bags plummet by more than 80 per cent. 

Meanwhile, the government has already published a call for evidence on implementing a deposit return scheme for plastic bottles.